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Repairs Needed at John Day Dam

by Associated Press
The Oregonian, April 20, 2007

THE DALLES, Ore. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent $1.5 million last month fixing the navigation lock at the John Day Dam, but engineers say that's only a fraction of what must be spent in the coming years.

The dam faces a range of problems, most of them centered in the navigation lock, which is used to transport boats around the dam. Millions of tons of goods move through the John Day navigation lock every year, including gas, wheat and logs.

"Every time we turn around there is something major to repair or fix," Mark Dasso, project manager for the lock repairs, told The Oregonian newspaper on Thursday.

Dasso described the problem of the navigation lock as similar to the problem of an old car. "You get to a point where you have to decide whether to get a new car or continue to make major repairs," he said.

But a new lock costs much more than a new car. A replacement could cost $1 billion. Dasso said repairs, which could range from $25 million to $100 million, are more likely, but a study that will help make that decision is expected to commence later this year.

Glenn Vanselow, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, said his group is concerned about extensive repairs, not only to the John Day Dam, but to the Snake River dams as well.

"It might be one of the bigger problems, because the lock walls are involved," he said of the John Day. "We think there is constant vigilance required, but we are not anticipating short-term failures."

The navigation lock at the John Day Dam is alongside the Washington shore. If it were to shut down, farmers would face difficulties in getting their grain to markets.

Associated Press
Repairs Needed at John Day Dam
The Oregonian, April 20, 2007

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