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Green light given on Oswego Canal headgate by the city

Lake Oswego officials have approved plans for a new headgate on Oswego Canal, rebuking concerns from the mayor of Rivergrove that an improved gate could steer floodwaters downstream to Rivergrove homes.

Rivergrove Mayor Hafez Daraee also said the headgate at Oswego Canal's confluence with the Tualatin River would block public access to Oswego Lake. In February, he asked Lake Oswego officials to deny the Lake Oswego Corporation's application to rebuild it.

In a letter to Lake Oswego planners, Daraee wrote that the Lake Corp's plan to return the gate to its pre-1996-flood geometry did not include enough detail about how the design would impact Rivergrove homes downstream during a 10-year flood.

He challenged the lack of blueprints and statements that the design would cause only a 'nominal increase' in the water level of the Tualatin River in a 10-year flood.

Daraee also pointed to an opinion by the Oregon Attorney General that says all Oregon waterways are public, even if the bed of the waterway is privately owned. He asked Lake Oswego officials to consider the opinion while the headgate was being redesigned.

Lake Oswego officials, however, have approved the headgate plan. FEMA officials have also approved the design, which addresses water level increases during 100- and 500-year floods.

In a memo attached to the application, city officials rebuked Daraee's concerns, summarizing the headgate's dimensions and calculations that show increases in water levels lower than an inch during 10-year floods.

In the five-page document, Joel Komarek, city engineer for Lake Oswego, said calculations show water on the Tualatin River would rise only between an eighth of an inch and three quarters of an inch during a 10-year flood.

He left the question of whether Oswego Canal is a public waterway to state officials.

'Whether or not the canal is in fact a public waterway is not relevant to this application and is an issue better resolved with the Division of State Lands,' Komarek added.

He also wrote that public access to Oswego Lake would not be altered by the new headgate since a gate and fencing already exists there.

Daraee opted not to appeal the decision.

As construction rolls forward, the Rivergrove mayor said he is still uncomfortable with plans for the new headgate but won't spend the city's limited resources on an appeal.

'We're always concerned whenever we see an application that doesn't provide you with enough information,' he said. 'To this day we haven't seen the plans of what they plan to build.'

Daraee questioned why Lake Oswego wouldn't require detailed plans from the Lake Corp when such plans are required for other types of local building.

He also said Lake Oswego should look closer at state opinions about providing access to public waters.

Bill Wiley, president of the Lake Corp, has previously said he is familiar with the attorney general's opinion and does not believe it applies to Oswego Lake.