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Bill sets aside $5 million for lake operations

Almost $5 million in federal money could flow into the ongoing operations of Lost Creek and Applegate lakes after the U.S. Senate signed off on an energy and appropriations bill Monday.

In making the announcement, U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said the appropriations bill includes more than $280 million for Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.

Before the bill becomes law, an earlier version passed by the U.S. House of Representatives will have to be reconciled with the Senate version and sent to the president for his signature.

The Oregon Democratic senators said the money for fiscal year 2010 would create or preserve jobs in the state while preserving water resources and stimulating energy technology.

Most of the appropriation is related to waterways and ports, but some money will be used to stimulate solar projects. The bill is not related to federal stimulus dollars.

In Jackson County, $3.6 million is earmarked for Lost Creek Lake and another $1.3 million for Applegate Lake. A floodplain feasibility study for the city of Medford is $60,000. All three projects are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In fiscal year 2009, the Corps received $3.5 million for operations and maintenance at Lost Creek and $900,000 for Applegate.

The floodplain study in Medford could involve surveys, floodplain mapping and water runoff calculations.

Most of the money for Lost Creek and Applegate will pay for such items as annual costs of maintaining stream gauges to determine flows, annual maintenance on spillway gates, maintenance of the parks and for a person who coordinates reservoir outputs with the National Weather Service.

Jim Buck, the Corps' Rogue River Basin project manager, declined to say whether any of the federal money would be used for projects that are above and beyond the standard operations and maintenance at the two lakes.

He said it is not the Corps' policy to discuss any other potential projects until the funding is secured.

"We won't know until this thing is signed, sealed and delivered," he said. "The Corps takes a very strict approach on the funding."

Reach Damian Mann at 776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.