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  • Model the benefits of upgrading outdated water infrastructure with more natural solutions that effectively meet the needs of people and fish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
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Project Partners

City of Silverton

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Oregon Water Resources Department

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board

Pudding River Watershed Council