The derelict and condemned Winchester Dam hasn’t produced hydroelectricity for more than half a century. It offers no flood control or irrigation. Its sole purpose is to provide a private water ski lake for the exclusive “recreational” use of the 99 wealthy property owners in the WWCD, at the exclusion of the public.

Because it provides no public purpose, the Winchester Water Control District (WWCD) itself is, in fact, an illegal organization according to Oregon law. Oregon Revised Statute 553.020 specifically requires all water control districts in the State of Oregon to provide a public purpose such as hydroelectricity, irrigation, or flood control.

The same statute makes it perfectly clear that “recreation” is not a public purpose. Consequently, the formation of the WWCD was illegal.

Despite WWCD’s clear and ongoing violation of this law, OWRD allowed the WWCD to exist and refuses to enforce ORS 553.020 in this instance.

Oregon law ORS 533.020 states:

I.   Water control districts may be created as provided in this chapter for the purpose of acquiring, purchasing, constructing, improving, operating and maintaining drainage, irrigation, and flood and surface water control in order to prevent damage and destruction of life and property by floods, to improve the agricultural and other uses of the land, and to improve the public health, welfare, and safety.
II. A water control district, organized for one or more of the purposes provided by subsection (1) of this section, may also acquire, purchase, construct, improve, operate and maintain works and facilities for the secondary purposes of domestic, municipal and industrial water, recreation, wildlife, fish life and water quality enhancement. However, a water control district may not be created solely for one or more of the purposes provided by this subsection.

Meanwhile, Douglas County real estate brokers continue to advertise multi-million-dollar WWCD properties as having their own private water ski lake. 

And this is made possible through courtesy of the taxpayer funded regulatory agencies of the State of Oregon.