Leaburg Dam trouble: 'We're down to one gate that can regulate the flow through the river'

LEABURG, Ore. - A second of three gates at the Leaburg Dam failed without explanation this week.

Another of the three gates has been out of service and under repair since 2012.

"We're down to one gate that can regulate the flow through the river, which does increase urgency of getting repairs to the original gate broken," Lance Robertson with Eugene Water and Electric Board said.

The middle gate that experienced a motor failure 3 years ago was set to be fixed by mid to late January.

Now crews have to figure out what's wrong with the right gate.

"It just closed, slammed shut basically," Robertson said.

Meanwhile EWEB crews are preparing for the possibility that the 3rd and only working gate could malfunction by having pumps at nearby hatcheries to maintain water levels.

A crane might come in handy, too.

"We're working on a contingency plan to use a crane to pull one of the gates up if we have to," Robertson said.

The three 16-feet-tall by 100-feet-wide gates regulate the volume of water spilled from the 73-year-old hydroelectric facility on the McKenzie River east of Eugene.

The gates have a unique system or opening and closing. They are cylindrical steel that "roll" or rotate, up and down, to regulate the flow of the river. Water also is diverted at Leaburg Dam into a power canal that is used to generate electricity at a powerhouse four miles downstream.

Shutdown of the right-bank roll gate poses no immediate threat to the public, EWEB said.

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