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NFC: Fw: [currents] RiverCurrents Online -- Week of June 18, 1999

Robert Rice
Help Preserve our Aquatic Heritage join the Native Fish Conservancy
 at our website  www.nativefish.org

--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Julie Lowe" <jlowe at amrivers_org>
To: "currents List Member"  <robertrice at juno_com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 15:57:40 -0400
Subject: [currents] RiverCurrents Online -- Week of June 18, 1999
Message-ID: <MDAEMON-F199906171558.AA584267MD96721 at amrivers_org>

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River News for the Week of June 18, 1999

DAM REMOVAL: Maine’s Kennebec River will soon flow free for the first
in over 160 years with the removal of Edwards Dam on the morning of July
1999. The removal of the dam signals a renewal for the Kennebec and marks
turning point for river restoration efforts nationwide, reports American
Rivers (6/14). The dam removal is the result of a decade-long effort by
Kennebec Coalition (made up of conservation groups American Rivers, the
Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and
Trout Unlimited and its Kennebec Valley Chapter) and of an innovative
agreement forged by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, federal and
state natural resource agencies, the city of Augusta, the state of Maine,
and the dam owners. The removal of Edwards Dam reflects a shift in how
society views rivers. The Edwards case demonstrates that in some
the benefits of removing a dam and restoring the free-flowing river
the benefits of keeping the dam in place. Not all dams are appropriate
removal, but when the benefits of removal outweigh the benefits of the
removal is a legitimate and feasible option for restoring a healthy

In Wisconsin, an advocate to save the Waubeka Dam has agreed that he
yet request funds from the Town Board to complete a study on the dam
proponents for dam removal can be heard. The River Alliance of Wisconsin
working to remove the dam, which could take place in 2000. The Department
Natural Resources plans to declare the dam abandoned this year and will
study the effect of removal on the Milwaukee River watershed. According
Chuck Fry, chairman of the Waubeka Dam Preservation Committee, proponents
dam removal “portray themselves as environmentalists, but what they
are is a bunch of canoeists who don't want to get off their butts and
around a dam." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 6/12) The committee fears the
effects of flooding downstream and pollution of the river from released
sediment if the dam is removed.

Finally, the Senate passed an annual spending bill this week that
the Bonneville Power Administration from raising rates to pay for the
possible breaching of four dams on the lower Snake River” in Washington,
reports the Portland Oregonian (6/17). The provision was introduced by
Gorton, R-Wash., who opposes breaching the dams. Gorton and other
had feared that the BPA, which is now deciding its rates for 2001 to
would increase those rates to pay for projects like dam breaching that
not begin before 2006.

     *     *     *

UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER: A new report issued this week by the U.S.
Geological Survey’s Long Term Resource Monitoring Program for the Upper
Mississippi River concludes that the long-term prognosis for the
health of the Upper Mississippi River is not good, reports American
(6/17). The report, entitled "Ecological Status and Trends of the Upper
Mississippi River System,” says that dams, training structures and levees
which provide adequate depth for barge traffic and protect floodplain
agriculture have robbed the river of the ability to build new side
and marshes. Because these structures have confined the river's erosive
power to a central channel, side channels and backwaters which fill with
silt and sediment are no longer replaced during floods, slowly
the places river wildlife need to feed, conserve energy and reproduce.
operations designed to provide sufficiently deep water for barges have
eliminated the period of low summer flows when the river's bed would
consolidate, setting the stage for the growth of the marsh plants
by river wildlife. Additionally, dam operations elevate floodplain water
tables, threatening the long-term health of the river's floodplain

     *     *     *

DAM MAINTENANCE: In Massachusetts, the approval of a Senate supplemental
state budget will allocate $250,000 to the cities of Carver, Halifax,
Kingston and Plymouth for repairs to public dams. As reports the Patriot
Ledger (6/14), more than 141 area dams are in need of repairs. 24 of
dams are publically-owned. Proponents of dam repair say that several
of plants and animals that make their homes in a series of ponds created
the dams would be damaged if the dams were to fail.

     *     *     *

HORSE CREEK: An environmental group is urging the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection to designate Horse Creek an "exceptional natural
resource that is critical to endangered wildlife and inadequately
by current regulations.” Staff of the DEP have recommended denial of
pollution protection status for the creek, and that special designation
the creek “would have a devastating economic impact on the phosphate
industry or reduce tax revenue for local governments.” As reports the
Sarasota Herald-Tribune (6/17), DEP staff feels that the creek does not
possess the exceptional ecological or recreational significance necessary
for designation as an “Outstanding Florida Water”. On the other hand,
environmentalists say that the creek is "the most ecologically
tributary to the Peace River, which supplies most of the fresh water in
Charlotte Harbor, a nationally recognized estuary.” Designation of the
would preclude the issuing of permits for mining, waste-water and
development discharges that would harm the river. Two companies are
currently proposing to mine phosphate in the Horse Creek watershed.

     *     *     *

SLUDGE: The Virginia State Water Control Board has approved a permit by a
4-1 vote that will allow a fertilizer company to spread treated human
called sludge on nearly 3,000 acres of farmland in the Shenandoah Valley,
reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch (6/17). Area residents oppose the
permit, arguing that the sludge could “contaminate underground water,
nearby land and hurt people.” Farmers use the sludge for fertilizer,
is much more tightly regulated than manure or fertilizer. But opponents
that much of the sludge would be spread in areas with sinkholes, caves
underground streams, increasing the likelihood of underground water

     *     *     *

SALMON: The use of hatchery fish bred from wild stocks will be increased
a means of restoring endangered fish runs along the Columbia River in
Washington, thanks to an agreement between tribal and state officials. As
reports the Portland Oregonian (6/16), “the deal also ends the attempt by
four Columbia River tribes to pass a bill that would suspend the state's
wild-fish policy -- which in some cases severely restricted the use of
hatchery fish -- upstream from Bonneville Dam.”  The agreement ends a
dispute between tribes and environmentalists over hatchery operations --
environmentalists felt tribes simply wanted to restore harvest levels
than protect native fish, and tribes felt that environmentalists cared
about protecting the genetic purity of a few wild fish. Under this
agreement, the state will work with tribes to “create basin plans that
supersede the wild-fish management policy” and that will “incorporate
science, be consistent with Endangered Species Act recovery efforts and
include a study of the risks to wild fish.”

     *     *     *

NIOBRARA RIVER: The National Park Service has been ordered to drop its
management plan for the Niobrara National Scenic River in Nebraska,
including disbanding the local council created to help manage the river.
American Canoe Association and the National Parks and Conservation
Association prompted the decision, charging that the council had not
protected the river, and that the waterway was “overcrowded and polluted
pit toilets while surrounding campsites were poorly managed.” A U.S.
District Court judge in Washington, D.C. made the order, agreeing with
opposition to the plan that the “delegation of authority to a council
up of local residents with minimal Park Service oversight was
and went beyond the agency's legal limits.” As reports the Omaha
World-Herald (6/16), creating a council with local representation was
considered key to gain acceptance among area residents for scenic-river
designation because of the voice it gave them in the river’s management.
Those agreeing with the decision say it will “ensure that our national
remain national.” The Park Service will likely start over with a new
management plan.

     *     *     *

WOONASQUATUCKET RIVER: A health report released this week says there are
widespread health risks from dioxin contamination in the Woonasquatucket
River in Rhode Island. However, officials at the Agency for Toxic
and Disease Registry are still cautioning people against eating fish from
the river or having much exposure to the waterway. The agency will not
whether people living along the river are “at risk in their back yards,”
reports the Providence Journal-Bulletin (6/17). Federal superfund
investigators have been trying to pinpoint dioxin contamination in the
river, and are “searching for whoever or whatever might have polluted the

     *     *     *

MINING: In Washington State, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians has signed an
agreement with owners of a gravel mining site near McMillin. Proponents
the mine had hoped the tribe would side with them, which would help
the company’s permit, reports the Tacoma News Tribune (6/16). They now
the project will endanger Fennel and Canyon Falls creeks, which are
salmon-bearing tributaries of the Puyallup River.

     *     *     *

GAS EXPLOSION: A gas explosion from a burst pipeline in Bellingham,
Washington of over 277,000 gallons of leaking gasoline killed three
and hundreds of fish in Watcom Creek, home to Puget Sound Chinook. The
Chinook were recently listed as a threatened species under the Endangered
Species Act.  As reports the Seattle Times (6/11), “Everything is dead.
the worms in the soil. It changed the very structure of the shoreline"
(quote from Department of Ecology specialist Bruce Barbour).


For more news, visit American Rivers at www.amrivers.org