City & Government, Creswell

Fighters against flooding: Creswell Water Control District

A map of the Creswell Water Control District’s region by tax lots. The CWCD’s focus is to prevent damage and destruction of life and property from floods. Map provided

There are certain jobs and roles that are often overlooked, not seen or even hidden. The custodian, a behind-the-scenes organizer, the anonymous donor.
And the Creswell Water Control District board members.
Jim Fox, treasurer and new board member, said it’s akin to not noticing the house is clean – until it’s dirty.
”That’s probably why there’s not a lot of public awareness,” he said, ”because they’ve done such a good job of keeping the house clean.”
The water district was formed Oct. 25, 1957. The five-member board is responsible for acquiring, purchasing, constructing, improving, operating and maintaining drainage, irrigation, flood and surface-water control to prevent damage and destruction of life and property by floods; to improve the agricultural and other uses of lands; and to improve public health, welfare and safety.
”Just about every year, a great deal of this area flooded,” Fox said. ”(The district) worked with the corps of engineers and a diversion structure was built; it took most of the flow and directed it into the Willamette.”
He said that the board also established a manually operated floodgate and levees that would allow only a certain amount of water into Hill Creek, ”and it worked.”
Fox is serving his first term on the board after being elected June 10. He said he got involved because he was affected by the board’s decisions.
”It was difficult to get a hold of people and it didn’t seem like there was much activity,” he said. ”I talked to other people and it didn’t seem like anyone knew anything about it; I thought I was going to get involved and find out.”
He said that he is a firm believer that democracy only works when people get involved, and he thought it was a shame how many local positions have gone unfilled over the years.
The other water board members are Carla Smart, secretary, Gloria Downey, Michael Karam, and Mike Rolfe, president.
Fox said the lack of public awareness is a challenge for the board. He suggested the board should hold discussions with property owners and explain its mission and projects.
”Educate them as to what the district is doing and the responsibility, as property owners, they have,” he said.
One of the projects the board is working on is fixing the problem areas of the creek that have debris in it. He added that a focus on vegetation would attract wildlife and improve water quality, and he’s looking forward to discussing these ideas with the rest of the board.
Although past methods have been effective in combating flooding, Fox said he hopes the district looks into more options beyond controls.
”In changes to climate and rainfall, and new attitudes about water, it’s time to look at what the board does,” he said. ”I would just like to see the board take a more active role, become a steward of the creek.”



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