DEQ Fines Winchester Dam Owners for Water Violations from Dam Repair

By Taylar Ansures  |  Oct. 26, 2023  |  KOBI News

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued two enforcement orders for the Winchester Water Control District and contractor TerraFirma for violations that happened during Winchester Dam repairs over the summer.

According to DEQ, Winchester Water Control District is being fined $106,778 for violating at least 10 water quality certifications for repair work on the dam.  The violations include discharging concrete into the river, putting tire mats in the river, and failing to provide passage for native fish. The Winchester Water Control District is the company that owns and operates the Winchester Dam.

DEQ says it is fining TerraFirma $27.6 thousand for polluting the North Umpqua River. DEQ says the company discharged concrete into the river and placed heavy truck tire mats in the river.

The Winchester Water Control District and TerraFirma must either pay the fines or file an appeal within 20 days after getting notice of the penalty. DEQ says they may be able to offset some of the fines by finding a supplemental environmental project that benefits Oregon’s environment.

Earlier this month, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife filed a $27 million claim against the Winchester Water Control District, TerraFirma, and others for the death of at least 550,000 Pacific lamprey during the same dam repair project.

Winchester Dam was built in 1890. It spans 450 feet across the North Umpqua River. The primary purpose of the Winchester Dam is water recreation.

This story originally appeared on KOBI-TV NBC 5 on Oct. 26, 2023.