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NFC: Fw: [Updates] Lower Snake Dams Violate Clean Water Act (fwd)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 09:42:23 -0600
From: robert a rice <robertrice at juno_com>
To: nfc at actwin_com,
    flier at uswest_net
Subject: Fw: [Updates] Lower Snake Dams Violate Clean Water Act

Robert Rice
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--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Suzy McDowell" <smcdowell at amrivers_org>
To: "Updates List Member" <robertrice at juno_com>
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 09:34:49 -0500
Subject: [Updates] Lower Snake Dams Violate Clean Water Act
Message-ID: <MDAEMON-F199903310935.AA350595MD59496 at amrivers_org>

For Immediate Release
March 31, 1999

Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, 206/343-7340;
Katherine Ransel, American Rivers, 206/213-0330;
Amy Souers, American Rivers, 202/347-7550;
Glen Spain, Institute for Fisheries Resources, 541/689-2000;
Bill Arthur, Sierra Club, 206/378-0114 ext 307


Fishermen and conservationists ask court to order Army Corps to address

(PORTLAND, OR)--Commercial fishing and conservation groups today charged
that the operation of the four federal dams and reservoirs on the Lower
Snake River by the Army Corps of Engineers violates the Clean Water Act
creates river conditions lethal to already threatened salmon and
The groups today filed suit in Federal District Court in Portland to
the Army Corps to comply with the Clean Water Act.

Fishermen and conservationists assert that the four Lower Snake River
create slack water reservoirs where water temperatures in the summer can
reach levels lethal to salmon and that uncontrolled spilling of water
the dams' spillways can lead to high levels of nitrogen gas in the water
the spring.

"These are long-standing, serious violations of the Clean Water Act which
are causing great harm to salmon," said Glen Spain of the Institute for
Fisheries Resources.  "Federal dam operators seem to think they are
from the Clean Water Act but they are not."

High temperatures in the slackwater reservoirs result from the lack of
cooling flows and the huge surface area absorbing heat.  High gas levels
result from uncontrolled spilling of water in response to floods or
However, not all spill is bad.  A controlled spill program is the best
safest way to help young fish past the dams. Spill can be controlled to
minimize gas levels.

"The lethal high water temperatures caused by these four dams are helping
drive Snake River salmon to the brink of extinction," said Bill Arthur of
the Sierra Club.  "It's past time for the Army Corps to stop ignoring its
systematic failures and violations of laws that are harming our water
quality and salmon."

The Clean Water Act requires the Army Corps to comply with water quality
standards established by the Washington Department of Ecology for the
Snake River.  Data gathered by Washington state and the federal
Environmental Protection Agency show that the four dams and reservoirs
violate Washington's water quality standards for temperature and
nitrogen gas, creating conditions lethal to salmon.

"The federal government enforces the Endangered Species and Clean Water
Acts, but it must also comply with these laws.  This is a matter of
leadership and fairness," said Katherine Ransel of American Rivers. "We
asking the court to recognize that the reservoirs behind the four Lower
Snake dams frequently get too hot for salmon and to order the Army Corps
take steps to address these serious violations of the Clean
Water Act."

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that the Army Corps is
violating the Clean Water Act by its operation of the four Lower Snake
River dams and reservoirs and to order the Corps to set a schedule to
resolve these problems. While dam removal is not sought in the suit,
plaintiffs point out that removing the earthen portions of the dams to
restore a free-flowing river may be the best and least expensive way to
restore cool water for salmon and eliminate the dissolved gas problem.
However, they assert that interim measures must be undertaken to address
the current water temperature and gas problems, regardless of the
fate of the four dams.

"The Army Corps of Engineers is violating the Clean Water Act and needs
solve these problems," said attorney Kristen Boyles of the Earthjustice
Legal Defense Fund, one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs.
"There may be several different solutions to the water quality problems
with these dams.  But unless and until federal dam operators acknowledge
that there is a problem that they are responsible for, we will never
at the solution."

The plaintiffs in the case include the National Wildlife Federation,
Wildlife Federation, Washington Wildlife Federation, Pacific Coast
Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Institute for Fisheries
American Rivers, Sierra Club, and Idaho Rivers United.  The plaintiffs
represented by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund in Seattle and the Pacific
Environmental Advocacy Center at the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis
Clark College in Portland.