Crater Lake project redirected to city staff

Cost of geotechnical assessment after repeal of two tax propositions was a concern

Three-year-old Chena rests at Crater Lake while on a hike with owner Andy Pfeiffer on Saturday, April 14, 2018. Photo by Andy Pfeiffer/for The Cordova Times

A Cordova City Council resolution to authorize spending $100,000 of the city’s general fund reserve for a geotechnical assessment for the Crater Lake project has been referred back to staff for further study.

The 5-2 vote during the May 16 city council meeting came after lengthy discussion.

Several councilmembers thought the information gained from the assessment would be valuable in determining the future of the project. However, they couldn’t justify spending the money after two tax propositions were repealed, knowing there could be potential funding requests from the school in the upcoming months and lack of public support for the project.

“The biggest stumbling block that I see here is the fact that we don’t have the downstream property owners on board with this,” Councilman James Burton said. “Until there’s some collaboration there … I don’t support using any city money to move forward on this project.”

One of those property owners is Wendy Ranney, owner of Orca Adventure Lodge, which sits directly below the proposed dam site. Ranney has spoken numerous times on the potential for loss of life and property that the Crater Lake project could have on her business and family.

“There are no guarantees that you can give us that we and our clients and our property are going to be safe,” Ranney said. “I, 100 percent, would love to see us have alternative energy, but not at risk to any single life or property. It’s not worth it.”


The Crater Lake project began in 2013 as a way to expand Cordova’s water supply.

“By adding a small dam and pipeline and a power and water plant, (it could) provide about eight percent of Cordova’s electricity and increase supply of clean water,” said Clay Koplin, chief executive officer of Cordova Electric Cooperative, Inc. The geotechnical assessment would measure the quality of rock at the dam site and along the length of the pipeline, he said.

The council considered several ideas, including using money from the city’s water fund or lowering the city’s cost for the assessment from $100,000 to $25,000.

The total cost projection for the geotechnical assessment is anticipated to be $500,000 to $600,000, Koplin said.

“I think it would be good to have more of the information that would come from the geotechnical assessment … but given the current budget state for the city … I think $100,000 is a big ask,” Council member Anne Schaefer said.