The Deschutes Needs Your Help

Please send this letter to these folks or draft one of your own liking.

Gov. Browns Natural resource Policy advisor.

We need your help.

PGE in a relicensing agreement changed how they send water down the lower Deschutes in December 2009. Prior to that the Deschutes received 100% bottom release which is obviously cold.  Today they are able to pull water from the surface as well as the bottom.  The surface water along with being pretty much toxic ia pollution.  PGE’s water management policy was agreed to and signed off by a bunch of parties.  In a nutshell all of this was done to aid reintroduction of Salmon and Steelhead above the complex.  Today we are 11 years into this experiment, and it hasn’t worked.  There is not one measure of success PGE can point to.

Here’s the truth.  Since 2010 the lower Deschutes has been polluted with warm toxic water by PGE in the spring and in the summer. The Deschutes River Alliance sought relief in court, those efforts were thwarted due to the Confederated Tribes having an ownership share in the complex.  Basically we can’t sue the tribes , we don’t have standing and they are a sovereign nation. Today we have a smallmouth bass infestation up the lower Deschutes.  Prior to the pollution thousands of people fished for steelhead off the mouth of the Deschutes, today it is a walleye fishery.  The mouth of the Deschutes and the Deschutes itself provided a cold water sanctuary for thousands of migrating steelhead on their 700 mile journey up the Columbia and Snake rivers, and without that refuge the run in in a massive decline.  Summer steelhead over Bonneville dam in 2010 exceeded 400,000, in every year but one the run has fallen and most recently we fail to achieve 90,000 fish over the dam.

This problem, the pollution, is acute.  We can pinpoint the exact time the pollution started and the exact cause.  We can stop polluting with the flip of a switch.  Although the new “cooling tower” was built over the original release gate that allowed 100% cold water release it is capable of 60% cold-water release and we think we can live with that.  Inaction on our part will lead to the extinction of summer steelhead.

I’ve tried to focus on just the Steelhead runs because they are the most at risk but this problem is far more extensive.  All of the problems are helped by adding cold water.  This doesn’t cost PGE anything.  I assume the turbines don’t care if the water is warm or cool, they ran fine under cold water for fifty years prior.

Please help.

Please let PGE know we’ve had enough pollution on the lower Deschutes.

Sam Sickles

Steelhead Outfitters 

(541) 400-0855

Hood River, Oregon