DEQ fines Winchester Dam owners for water violations from dam repair

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued two enforcement orders for the Winchester Water Control District and 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 thousand 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.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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