District Court rules in favor of fish over profits in federal dam operations
Western Communications Director
503.827.5700 x. 10
7/29/2004 -- Portland, Ore. -- National salmon and trout conservation group Trout Unlimited today applauded the decision by U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden Wednesday which prevents federal dam managers from curtailing salmon-saving measures in order to boost hydropower revenues in the operations of federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.
Trout Unlimited is among several plaintiffs who have sued to retain the salmon-saving provisions in place.
The ruling disallows a Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) plan to end “spill” – the process of spilling water and juvenile out-migrating salmon safely over dams on the Columbia and Snake rather than passing them through deadly turbines . Water spilled over dams does not pass through the dams’ turbines, and therefore does not generate hydropower and revenue for BPA.
Spill is not only required under the law regulating treatment of imperiled salmon and steelhead trout at the Columbia-Snake dams, it is also widely recognized by scientists as among the most effective methods of safely passing juvenile fish through the massive hydrosystem to the ocean, where they spend a number of years rearing before returning to the rivers as adults.
“It is refreshing to see Bonneville and the Corps held accountable for holding up their end of the bargain when it comes to power-generation and the damage it does to this region’s fisheries,” said Jeff Curtis, Western Conservation Director for Trout Unlimited. “They have become accustomed to managing salmon populations in a deficit and continuing to send them further and further into the red so they can cash in on the power side. Thanks to the Court, this is one instance where that won’t be allowed.”
Judge Redden’s ruling orders dam operators to continue spilling water at the complex of dams through the end of August while young salmon and steelhead migrate. Plaintiff groups maintain that action will end up saving tens of thousands of returning adult salmon and steelhead in coming years.
Mission: Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The organization has more than 127,000 members in 450 chapters in North America.