© 2022 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Oregon's Willamette Valley seen from Eugene
NPR for Oregonians
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Fishermen Prep To Sue PGE Over Lower Deschutes Water Quality

<p>Round Butte Dam holds back the waters of the Deschutes River to form Lake Billy Chinook near Madras, Ore., Tuesday, July 13, 2004.</p>

Don Ryan


Round Butte Dam holds back the waters of the Deschutes River to form Lake Billy Chinook near Madras, Ore., Tuesday, July 13, 2004.

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.

Copyright 2021 EarthFix. To see more, visit .

Amanda Peacher is an Arthur F. Burns fellow reporting and producing in Berlin in 2013. Amanda is from Portland, Oregon, where she works as the public insight journalist for Oregon Public Broadcasting. She produces radio and online stories, data visualizations, multimedia projects, and facilitates community engagement opportunities for OPB's newsroom.