Abiqua Creek Dam

Sustaining city water supply and fish passage

About the Project

Abiqua Dam is a 15-foot-high, 64-foot-wide, low-head concrete dam built in 1943 to supply water for Silverton, Oregon. The dam has a fish ladder that is ineffective and decaying, and blocks fish passage to 7.5 miles of high-quality spawning, rearing, and migration habitat on Abiqua Creek for three federally endangered species—winter steelhead, spring Chinook and coho—as well as coastal cutthroat trout.

Abiqua Creek is a tributary of the Pudding River, which joins the Willamette River downstream of Salem, Oregon. The Pudding and Willamette run unimpeded to join the Columbia River, creating a direct connection to the Pacific Ocean, which makes the dam’s removal even more significant.

The aging dam is a liability to the City due to structural damage, a degrading foundation, and water seeping through cracks in the dam face. Rather than invest in repairs, the City intends to remove the dam and replace it with a natural channel structure that allows diversions to maintain the City’s water supply. Removal of the dam will also extend a class II-III kayak run downstream and improve conditions for recreationalists. Silverton’s population, which has nearly tripled since the dam was built, supports this nature-based solution for their aging dam to meet municipal water needs and reduce environmental impacts.

Owner: City of Silverton, Oregon
Size: 15 feet high, 64 feet wide
Project Cost: $8.3 million
ORF Investment: Early conceptual design, design, and permitting
Miles Opened: 7.5 miles
Fish: Winter steelhead, spring Chinook, coho, coastal cutthroat trout
Status: Removal expected in 2022-23

  • Open 7.5 miles of high-quality habitat on Abiqua Creek for steelhead, spring Chinook, and cutthroat trout
  • Eliminate the City’s liability for dam failure and community concerns about water supply disruption
  • Extend a popular Class II and III kayak run from Abiqua Creek Falls that currently terminates at the dam and improve safety for kayakers
  • Model the benefits of upgrading outdated water infrastructure with more natural solutions that effectively meet the needs of people and fish
  • Reestablish sediment flows to the lower Abiqua Creek

Project Partners

City of Silverton

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Oregon Water Resources Department

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board

Pudding River Watershed Council