Salem, OR – On September 25, 2018, a federal magistrate judge approved Marion County's status as an intervenor in the lawsuit between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Northwest Environmental, Wildearth Guardians, and Native Fish Society. In order to maintain a stable economy in the North Santiam Canyon and for the health and welfare of Marion County's residents, including safe and adequate drinking water for the city of Salem, the county filed the motion to intervene in the U.S. District Court of Oregon on September 6, 2018.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed construction of a water mixing tower to control water temperature at Detroit Dam. In order to construct the tower, it is anticipated that Detroit Lake would need to be drained for an extended period of time which could negatively impact agricultural and recreation based industries in the area.
Marion County Economic Development Coordinator Tom Hogue estimates that 70 percent of jobs in the Detroit Lake area are recreation based and prolonged low water conditions could lead to an annual $11 million loss to these industries. Additionally, farms and businesses in the southern part of the county that rely on water from the North Santiam River Watershed for irrigation would also be severely impacted by low water conditions at Detroit Lake.
"With this action, Marion County is seeking to protect the long-term viability of county agricultural and recreational industries," said Commissioner Kevin Cameron. "It is important for Marion County to officially participate in this lawsuit to ensure the concerns of our residents and businesses are considered."