Accidental water release at Lost Creek Lake Dam prompts safety changes

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making some changes at the Lost Creek Lake Dam after an accidental discharge of water earlier this week.

Posted: Jun 14, 2019 6:12 PM

LOST CREEK LAKE, Ore. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making some changes at the Lost Creek Lake Dam after an accidental discharge of water earlier this week.

Operations Project Manager Chuck Grady said this past Wednesday around 10:45 a.m. crews were doing normal maintenance on a gate at the intake tower when a gate opened that wasn't supposed to. It resulted in a large amount of water rushing into the Rogue River where several fishermen were.

Ashland resident Paul Cataldo was fishing at the time and was swept away by the water release. He said he noticed the water starting to rise and knew something was wrong.

"I felt extra pressure on the back of my legs then I felt a little more. I started sliding and I turned down river and then the water just took me down river," Cataldo said. 

He wasn't hurt, just a little shaken.

After the incident, Cataldo has been speaking with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and said workers have been nothing but helpful and apologetic.

They gave him a tour of the plant and explained exactly what happened.

"Those guys were so professional and concerned, I have nothing but good things to say about them, you know accidents happen and if that's what it was, that's what it was," Cataldo said. 

Since the incident, Grady said workers were looking closely at exactly what happened and plan to make some changes. There was not an alarm that went off at the time of the accidental release. Grady said that will soon change in the rare instance that it ever happens again.

"We are looking at our procedures in a way that we can either mechanically install an automated alarm or insert a process where we can turn that alarm on in case of an event so that people are aware and we can increase their safety," Cataldo said. 

Cataldo said despite the mistake, he fully supports the Army Corps.

"I know people are upset about it, but I'm okay and if anything I'm glad it happened to me cause I was able to get out okay," Cataldo said. 

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