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DRA Notifies PGE of intent to sue

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Press Release from DRA

On May 13, 2016, the Deschutes River Alliance (DRA) sent a sixty-day notice of intent to sue to Portland General Electric (PGE).

The primary allegation in the proposed suit is that PGE has knowingly violated the water quality requirements in the Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification for the Pelton-Round Butte Hydroelectric Complex. We have documented over 1,200 violations of the water quality requirements embodied in the Section 401 Certification.

We have met with PGE 25 times since March of 2013. Not once has PGE been transparent about these violations. We discovered the violations after extensive and exhaustive research and data collection.

The violations are reflective of broader water quality problems created by operation of the Selective Water Withdrawal (SWW) Tower at Round Butte Dam. These problems have caused, and continue to cause, ecological harm to the lower river, negatively impacting aquatic insects, algae and other river conditions. In addition, there have been economic impacts to the communities dependent upon the lower Deschutes River.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has not demonstrated any willingness to enforce these violations. Instead, ODEQ has worked privately with PGE on a yearly basis to weaken the §401 Certification’s requirements. These yearly “interim agreements” were made in violation of Oregon Administrative Rule procedural requirements, altering the water quality requirements as they were agreed to in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for the Pelton-Round Butte dam complex.

The SWW Tower was constructed to create surface currents in Lake Billy Chinook to guide juvenile anadromous fish to a collection facility where they are captured and trucked around the dam complex. We have been, and remain supportive of the anadromous fish reintroduction effort. However we believe that given the lack of success of juvenile fish migration through Lake Billy Chinook, and the serious negative impacts to the ecology of the lower Deschutes River, that it’s time to reassess surface water withdrawal in Lake Billy Chinook as the principle method to facilitate fish reintroduction.

If you need further information, please contact Jonah Sandford at Jonah@deschutesriveralliance.org or Greg McMillan at greg@deschutesriveralliance.org . You can also learn more about the issues facing the Deschutes by visiting the Deschutes River Alliance website.

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