The Deschutes River Alliance has argued for years that PGE/CTWS’s attempt to reintroduce anadromous fish into the upper Deschutes Basin has harmed the Deschutes River below the Pelton Round Butte complex of dams. As part of their advocacy the DRA brought a lawsuit against PGE/CTWS claiming that the project violated the Clean Water Act. On Monday the suit was dismissed for lacking “material fact”.
As someone who spends considerable time on the lower Deschutes I understand the passion anglers have on this subject. I also believe we need to be dispassionate and science-based in our analysis. Thus far, the science is clear: there has been no adverse impact on the fishery from the operation of the SWW. My personal angling experience reflects that as well. You can read the judge’s opinion here (scroll to the bottom for the conclusion).
The judge reiterates what has often been stated, “that pH be managed only to the extent possible without negatively affecting water temperature or dissolved oxygen concentration” and that “there are simply no measures that could accomplish this goal”. As has been documented, pH levels in the Deschutes are naturally high, they were high prior to the operation of the SWW, and fish in the river are not adversely impacted by existing pH levels. A new water quality study has been completed and is currently under peer review. Any new data revealed in that study will have to be addressed when it is released this fall.