Creswell Water Control District may dissolve

CRESWELL – The potential dissolution of the Creswell Water Control District may not be just a drop in the bucket for landowners in Creswell.

Formed in the 1950s, the Water Control District’s goal was to deal with persistent flooding in the area. 

Known as “The Stewards of Hill Creek.” the district spans the area from Lynx Hollow to the banks of the Coast Fork of the Willamette River, northeast of the Emerald Valley golf course.  

In the decades since, the boom of new residents amid a district formed almost 70 years ago has caused  public interest and awareness of the district to wane as the district struggles to remain relevant. 

In 1953, in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, the district built a concrete channel running just north of where Lynx Hollow Road meets Highway 99. 

This channel created what is now Hill Creek and diverted the majority of waterflow from Lynx Hollow Creek directly into the Willamette River northeast of Emerald Valley Golf Course. 

While this largely eliminated flooding in the ‘50s, flooding is not entirely a thing of the past. 

According to Jim Fox, Creswell Water Control District treasurer, Hills Creek has a very low-gradient stream bed, which has caused flooding surrounding Creswell every year. 

“It’s difficult for it to drain just because there isn’t enough gravity to get the flow to run well,” said Fox. “People just tolerate it rather than fixing the problem.” 

Hill Creek flows into Lake Park southwest of Emerald Valley Golf Course

This flooding occurs near Harrold Brother’s Dairy, and the old Bald Knob Mill pond, reducing value of farmland and making roads impassable, according to Mike Rolfe, Creswell Water Control District president. 

Right now, the district has one vacancy and four other board members: Mike Rolfe, president; Jim Fox, treasurer; and board members Carla Smart and Michael Karam.

The positions are entirely volunteer-based and with little public awareness, the district is quickly losing steam.

“People don’t really understand what the district is about so it’s hard for us. We are a governing body but we really don’t have any power,” said Rolfe.

Working within their means, the district in recent years has been assisting landowners on an as-needed basis, splitting costs for owners to clear debris in order to prevent water from backing up and flooding property.

“It’s easier to work with others and try to educate them on the significance of it and help them out financially,” said Rolfe.

The district has also helped clear ash trees near Hill Creek, which thrive in water, often becoming overgrown and collecting debris in areas prone to flooding. When water’s rise, debris is washed down and can destroy property.

“There are many portions of the stream that really need maintenance but we’re limited in our ability. … We really need people to step up and take care of the problem. We can offer financial assistance. We can offer technical assistance. We can put them in touch with vendors that can do the work. But at this point, we just don’t have the ability to do it ourselves,” said Fox.

A public hearing has been set for Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Creswell Community Center at which Rolfe and Fox hope the public will grow in knowledge and appreciation for what they do.

Depending on comments from the public, the district will make a decision to dissolve or not. 

“There’s plenty of work we could do, we just don’t have the resources. We don’t have the public support that we need,” said Fox. 



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