Beaverton’s source of water (protecting it from earthquakes)

Beaverton’s source of water (protecting it from earthquakes)

Plans are in the works to help protect Washington County’s main water source in the event of a major earthquake.

Hagg Lake and Scoggins Dam serve up to 600,000 people, but if an earthquake hits, they could be in danger. Lawmakers met recently to examine a project that has been years in the making. Project managers say the dam could be vulnerable in an earthquake, and local officials are looking at it so they can outline plans for improvements.

Some options include modifying the existing dam with various new features, including raising the dam by 17 feet to hold more water. Another option would be to build another dam on a different part of the lake.

Lawmakers spoke about the importance of the project in preserving water for agriculture and recreation, but most importantly, safety.

“Safety is a critical piece to this whole project,” said Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway. “If we can’t withstand the Cascadia event, if we can’t provide some safety and resilience for our community, then it doesn’t matter how strong our economy is or how good our recreation in – the safety issue is paramount and comes first.”

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici was among the many lawmakers touring the lake, including Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden sent representatives on the tour.

Engineers are reviewing the options, and in early 2020, that option will undergo an environmental review, which could take more than a year to complete.

Scoggins Dam-Hagg Lake is a federal facility owned by the Bureau of Reclamation. In 2012, Reclamation identified Scoggins Dam as one the highest priority dam safety projects in bureau’s portfolio due to its seismic vulnerability.

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