Fishermen Prep To Sue PGE Over Lower Deschutes Water Quality
A central Oregon conservation group has filed an intent to sue Portland General Electric over water quality on the lower Deschutes River.
The Deschutes River Alliance said PGE has violated water quality standards for several years by putting a water-mixing device in place at Round Butte Dam, one of three dams the utility operates on the lower Deschutes River.
The underwater device is designed to mix warm water from the top of the reservoir with the cold water at the bottom so water temperatures below the dams might more closely resemble conditions of a free-flowing river.
But Deschutes River Alliance president Greg McMillan said PGE has failed to meet water quality certification standards at the site hundreds of times since the mixing device has been in place.
"Since the change of operations in late 2009, there have been consistent violations set forth in that section 401 certification," McMillan said.
He particularly pointed to violations for the required amount of dissolved oxygen in the river below the dam, which is related both to water temperature and to the amount of water spilled over the dam by PGE.
But PGE spokesman Steve Corson said the utility is meeting the requirements set forth by Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality.
“We work really closely with our water quality regulators," Corson said. "We believe that we are in compliance.”
Corson pointed to the years of collaborative efforts on PGE's part to help re-establish salmon and steelhead in the river.
PGE has 60 days to respond to the intent to sue.
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