Fix a Rogue River Dam

Jul 23, 2014

We Need Your Help Now More Than Ever

WaterWatch has been working with the Gold Hill Irrigation District (GHID) to improve fish passage at its irrigation diversion on the Rogue River. With the removal of Savage Rapids Dam, City of Gold Hill Dam, and Gold Ray Dam and the notching of Elk Creek Dam, GHID’s diversion dam is now the highest ranking fish passage priority on the Rogue Basin Fish Access Technical Team's priority list. This project will benefit spring and fall chinook salmon, summer and winter steelhead, ESA listed coho salmon, cutthroat trout, and lamprey. The GHID diversion is on the mainstem of the Rogue River between the previous Gold Hill and Gold Ray dam sites, and will compliment and enhance the benefits of the other restoration efforts on the Rogue River.

This project was developed with a technical assistance grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), which allowed alternatives to be developed to solve the fish passage issues at the GHID’s diversion. With input from and consultation with the irrigation district and multiple state and federal agencies, alternatives were developed and an  alternative selected. Based on the engineers estimate, $283,000 in funding and in-kind match were secured for final engineering, environmental review and permitting, preparation of contract documents, administration, and project management. Permits have been secured and the project is slated to begin in late August this year.

Unfortunately, the low bid out of 6 bids came in $88,000 over the funds secured for construction ($151,000). We are now negotiating with bidders and discussing doing the project in stages so that some of the work can begin as scheduled, while additional funds are secured. OWEB has contributed $181,750 toward this project, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contributed $30,000 as well as work on the bypass system.

While we are searching for funding to make up the shortfall, any additional contribution will help reduce the shortfall and help move this project forward with the objective of still getting it completed before the start of irrigation season in April 2015.

Thank you for your support of this important project for the Rogue River.

Apr 9, 2014

Closing in on the goal

We're close ot achieving the goal on this project to modify this Rogue River irrigation dam to make it fish friendly, but we need your help.
In 2011, the irrigation district entered into an agreement with WaterWatch. WaterWatch agreed to raise funds to do design work and investigate alternatives to fix the harm caused by the diversion to Rogue River salmon and steelhead, while at the same time not raise operating costs. WaterWatch raised the funds, and together with the irrigation district, hired an engineer to develop alternatives.
A lengthy transparent planning process ensued to develop alternatives.  State and federal fish agencies were consulted.  The irrigation district participated in the process and development of alternatives.  Alternatives were considered and a mutually agreeable design was selected.
In early 2013, WaterWatch and the irrigation district then entered into another agreement to construct the preferred design. Again WaterWatch helped secure funding for this purpose. 
Now the project is in the process of securing permits for construction. We are close to the goal of modifying this large diversion to make it fish friendly but need your support. Please help us push complete this project to protect migratory fish in the Rogue River.
Dec 19, 2013

Free the Rogue - Phase II

GHID Dam - Rogue River
GHID Dam - Rogue River

The Rogue River in Southern Oregon is one of the nation’s most beloved waterways.  The Rogue was one of the twelve original Wild and Scenic Rivers recognized by Congress in 1968. People travel from all over the world to float the wild Rogue’s wilderness whitewater reaches, to hike a popular wilderness trail along the river, and to fish for salmon, trout and other sport fish. 

The Rogue has historically been a very productive river for salmon and steelhead, producing the largest wild populations in Oregon outside the Columbia River system. WaterWatch's Free the Rogue Campaign has successfully removed four major dams in the basin - three on the mainstem of the river.

Now, we are addressing other dams in the basin that impair fish passage on the Rogue. One such dam is the Gold Hill Irrigation District (GHID) diversion dam. This dam constricts and delays fish passage and harms and kills salmon and steelhead on the Rogue. This low dam that spans most of the length of the river. At times, the diversion takes more than ten times the water allowed by the district’s water rights. There are many design flaws and shortcomings with the system that harm and kill migrating fish in the Rogue.

WaterWatch is now working collaboratively with the irrigation district to modify this dam and diversion to help fish and to return water to the Rogue. We have a design and are looking for funding to complete construction.  The cost of the project is estimated at $249,000. We are seeking funding to build this project.

The benefits of the project will be substantial, eliminating adverse impacts to migrating salmon and steelhead and other native fish caused by the existing system and leaving more water in the Rogue River. We are close to a solution for this dam. We need your help to make the project real.

Dead steelhead - GHID Diversion - Rogue River
Dead steelhead - GHID Diversion - Rogue River


Apr 25, 2013

We have a plan!

This spring, WaterWatch and the Gold Hill Irrigation District agreed upon a single alternative to modify the existing structure to improve screening and passage while reducing the overall volume of water diverted by the dam.

We entered into another collaborative agreement for the implementation phase. This agreement basically requires us to look for funding to build the preferred alternative. This decision has been supported by both ODFW and NMFS. We recently submitted an application to OWEB to fund the project, and continue to search for matching funds from other sources. ODFW has committed to directly fund some of the improvements in fish passage outlined in the agreement.

Dec 21, 2012

Winter 2012 Update

Rogue Water Diversion Update:
WaterWatch received a grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) to fund the preparation of engineering design alternatives and help determine the feasibility of modifying the works or removing the wing dam at the Gold Hill Irrigation Diversion Project on the Rogue River. River Design Group has been retained to prepare the design alternatives. Design options are nearly completed. WaterWatch and the project partners will then evaluate these options and decide on the best option for implementation that meets the needs of fish, the Rogue River and the irrigation district. WaterWatch will then seek funding for reconfiguring the diversion to meet these needs.

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WaterWatch of Oregon

Portland, Oregon, United States

Project Leader

John DeVoe

Portland, Oregon United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Fix a Rogue River Dam