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After Oroville Dam state of emergency, experts look at southern Oregon dams

Josephine County, Ore. - In Oregon, seven dams have been deemed unsatisfactory - one in Josephine County, another in Curry County.

Oregon Water Resources Department and Josephine County Parks say they know the McMullen Dam in Lake Selmac has problems. They have known for years.

"With the parks budget being just over $1 million, the cost of the dam itself is going to come in between {$1 million and $3 million] dollars to improve it," Josephine County Parks manager Sarah Wright said.

To get an 'unsatisfactory' result means the dam cannot contain or handle a moderate sized flood. At Lake Selmac, that's rare - even with the winter weather this year.

"We feel like, at [the Parks Department, the weather] was the worst we've seen in 10 years," Wright said. "Even with the amount of water we received this year, the dam acted exactly how it should and there was at no time a risk of it failing. We certainly do use our emergency spillway every winter, actually."

In that 2016 report, inspectors list the emergency spillway as one of the problems needing to be fixed. Because of the huge cost to repair or replace the dam, the Wright says there is no timetable for when McMullen dam will get out of the unsatisfactory stage. Wright also says before the dam would be toppled over or broken by high waters, it would most likely push the water onto the nearby roads instead.

Fishermen on the lake on Wednesday say they have never seen any problems with the dam.

"If the dam were not here, we would be river fishing instead of lake fishing," William Taylor, who has been fishing on Lake Selmac for 25 years, said.

In fact, they say having the dam only helps with the snowfall and rain this year.

"I think it kept a lot of damage from happening," Taylor said. "It kept everything from hitting the rivers all at once. That's what the dam is supposed to do and that's what it's doing."

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