I noticed in researching the Deschutes Passage site there was reference to the Crooked R. having steelhead being contingent upon a fish ladder being constructed at the Opay Springs Dam. I have questions re this project. What is the status of this project? In further researching the fish ladder at Opal Springs, I found this Priority Table for necessary steps to complete the project.    (Priorities 2008)

Salmon and steelhead migration restoration (The Outline of a Plan)
The multi-organization agreement for relicensing Pelton Round Butte lays out a comprehensive fish passage program, including a solution to facilitate juvenile fish collection efforts in the Round Butte Dam forebay. Efforts will include (all dates are approximate):

  • Construction of a 273-foot tall Selective Water Withdrawal tower to be completed in 2009. The tower will attach to the present deep intake and rise out of the lakebed about 700 feet upstream of Round Butte Dam. It will be capped with a rectangular shaped intake module that will collect migrating fish and separately send water to the generators. The tower and related facilities should cost about $90 million.<!–
  • Reintroduction of spring Chinook salmon and summer steelhead in the tributaries above Lake Billy Chinook starting in 2007. (As juvenile resident kokanee migrate downstream, they may naturally convert to sockeye salmon in the process. If a significant portion of the kokanee becomes ocean-going sockeye, a major new fishery would be established.)
  • In the spring of 2009, the Selective Water Withdrawal tower will be operational and begin collecting migrating fish. The fish will be collected by a screen on the surface of the wedge, piped to a fish handling facility, and then transported downstream of the project where they’ll swim to the ocean. The water from the tower will separately pass through turbines at the base of the dam to generate electricity.
  • Long term, biologists predict that at least 96 percent of the juvenile fish collected at the water withdrawal tower will be safely transported downstream of the project.
  • By 2010 and 2011 the adult salmon and steelhead should begin a return trip from the Pacific, up the Columbia and Deschutes. They’ll be captured at the Reregulating Dam, then trucked upstream past the dams to complete their life cycles.
  • The improvements will potentially reopen 226 stream miles to salmon and steelhead migration (contingent on installation of a fish ladder at Opal Springs Dam on the Crooked River).

 Opal Springs, Central Oregon (Description)

 Opal Springs Dam is on the Crooked River in Jefferson County, Oregon and is used for hydroelectric power purposes. Construction was completed in 1985. It has a normal surface area of 5 acres. It is owned by Deschutes Valley Water District.

Opal Springs is rock fill. The core is assumed to be earth. The foundation is assumed to be rock, soil. Its height is 20 feet with a length of 177 feet. Maximum discharge is 10000 cubic feet per second. Its capacity is 58 acre feet. Normal storage is 41 acre feet. It drains an area of 3800 square miles.



Concerns in 2006: Crook County

“BE IT REMEMBERED THAT the regular meeting of the Crook County Court was held on September 20, 2006 at 9:00 a.m. in the Paulina School Gymnasium located at 70050 SE Paulina City Road, Paulina Oregon…”


CROOKED RIVER WATERSHED COUNCIL/BERTA YOUTEE           (Residents concerns about Opal)  

“Berta Youtee, Acting Interim Chair of the Watershed Council, reported on the Watershed projects, the search for a new coordinator, the 1997 establishment through legislation of the Council, two-thirds of the funding for the Council and projects coming from the lottery, the partners involved that contribute which are Crook County Court, Extension, and Soil and Water Conservation District and the 60 projects done which have involved 50 landowners.   Ms. Youtee said the Council has brought in over three million dollars in grants and has been working on several big projects.  She described one project that involved twenty seven miles of creek, both the South Fork and Beaver Creek and six landowners.  The Council works with landowners that need a connection to accomplish a goal.  The Council does writing of grants and assists in finding funding to accomplish the projects being worked on by the landowners to improve the land, creeks and rivers, habitats and grazing areas.  Ms. Youtee said the Council wants to keep local control and feels the Council has built a lot of trust in the County. 

Judge Cooper and Ms. Youtee discussed the  possibility of the steelhead introduction and the lack of a plan for a local Central Oregon manager to oversee the project. Judge Cooper said he thinks since this is the largest re-introduction of this species in history, it would be really good to have someone locally on the ground, and talking with the local residents and landowners.  Commissioner McCabe said this is going to impact the lower and upper Crooked River.  He had been in a meeting yesterday and the people were not forthright with information.  He said they have a plan for a screening diversion, planning on screening the streams and ditches which is costly.  Discussion was held regarding trying to get a direction on this so it doesn’t impact as  hard.  Commissioner McCabe cautioned the use federal grant dollars because there are strings attached.  Tim Deboodt, County Extension Agent spoke of the Watershed Council and the Soil and Water Conservation District coordinating on grants and becoming active with the landowners, creating a buffer for them during the re-introduction process.  Commissioner McCabe said this is a 13 year project.  Kirk Wineberger discussed the release being scheduled for next fall of 2007 with the adults returning in 2011.   Bob Williams related his experience when he lived on the John Day River and the Bridge Creek project.  At that time, there was discussion of charging $10,000 per fish caught in streams and ditches, and water down to 10 CFS.  Judge Cooper said he thinks the train has already left the station on this project.  Commissioner McCabe said there has already been fish turned out with tracking chips that have been tracked to the Pelton  Dam.  He talked about the $100,000 fish ladder at Opal Springs. 

 Judge Cooper discussed the Bull Trout  and the cold water temperature required while some water that comes out of the ground is already at 78 degrees and there is no way to cool the natural temperature. 

 The Court and audience discussed the Klamath Falls problem with the fish and irrigators in the Klamath Basin, the lack of water for the farmers and the hope that the introduction of the Steelhead does not bring this area to the point the Klamath Basin endured.

 Judge Cooper said that he and the Commissioners delivered that message strongly when they were in Washington D.C.  The goal is to not let that happen, and there is a strong commitment to make sure it doesn’t.

Pelton Round Butte is the only hydroelectric project in the U.S. jointly owned by a Native American tribe and a utility. Currently, the project is two-thirds owned by Portland General Electric (PGE), headquartered in Portland, Ore., and one-third owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (CTWS), through its Warm Springs Power Enterprises. (CTWS consists of the Wasco, Warm Springs and Paiute tribes.)

The Tribes purchased their first interest in the 465-megawatt project from PGE effective Jan. 1, 2002. They have the option to purchase additional interests up to a maximum of 50.01 percent as early as the year 2029, according to the ownership agreement. The Reregulating Dam powerhouse remains wholly owned by the Tribes.

Deschutes Passage
Deschutes Passage

(check out pages 3 and 4 for discussion of costs for the project at Opal Springs and approval given)    

This project (The Deschutes River Passage) is moving forward but the language seems to indicate that the passage of steelhead up the Crooked River is contingent upon a fish ladder at Opal Springs Dam. I can see that funding was approved. I am trying to find any indication of work started at the dam. Let me know if something has commenced as of this date.