Mirror Pond project likely to take years to sort out

It's been a long road already

Mirror Pond's fate still unclear

BEND, Ore. - The latest Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee meeting dealt with a victory on one front and frustration on the other.

"I was really pleased that Pacific Power stepped up and said let us repair the break in the dam right now," Bend City Councilor Mark Capell said Wednesday.

But one idea some favor is drawing some criticism: "There was specific statements by members of the committee (at a previous meeting) that fish passage wasn't something they were interested in," said Yancy Ling, the Native Fish Society's Upper Deschutes River steward.

It's just another chapter of how community members are dealing with the pond's silt filling waters -- and power company officials who say it's time to stop generating power on the Deschutes River and hand off its 100-year-old leaky dam.

On Monday, PacificCorp announced it would spend $250,000 to address the latest leak that sprung in October. Repairs are slated for April.

"So now we can continue negotiating, and the community doesn't have an ugly eyesore for years, potentially," Capell said.

Yes, years are likely the reality. Project Manager Jim Figurski said dealing with issues surrounding a transfer of ownership could take two to four years.

And environmentalists aren't happy with the timeline's priorities.

"It is disappointing that restoring the health of the river is not being addressed as one of the core elements of the discussion," Lind said.

But Bend Park and Rec Executive Director Don Horton  said it's too early to worry about fish.

"We can't begin to talk about how we're going to build fish passage if we don't know how we might fund that," Horton said.

Horton also said the group's biggest priorities should be identifying the entity that will take over the dam, how much the project will cost initially and to maintain, and funding sources to pay for the dam's costs.

Other issues include limited water rights.

In the meantime,  the group is closer to some answers.

The committee selected  a firm to conduct its own analysis on the condition of the dam and how much repairs might cost.

"We need to know what that long-term fix strategy is," Horton said.  "Is the strategy that the dam has to be completely replaced? Or is there some things we can do to the dam to make it last for 50 years, and what will that cost?"

Those answers are still about a month away. The dam inspection is scheduled for the beginning of March. Results are expected before April.

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