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NFC: Fw: [currents] RiverCurrents Online -- Week of August 6, 1999

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River News for the Week of August 6, 1999

LOWER SNAKE RIVER DAMS: More than 100 members of Congress urged President
Clinton to keep Snake River dam removal on the table as federal agencies
complete a 5-year, $20 million study of salmon recovery options. Led by
Reps. Thomas Petri (R-WI) and George Miller (D-CA), 13 Republicans and 94
Democrats sent a letter urging Clinton to “oppose any appropriations
bills or agency attempts to . . . postpone consideration of a full range
salmon recover options.” The letter was issued less than two weeks after
House Resources Committee passed a resolution that opposes the removal of
four Snake River dams to aid the recovery of endangered Snake River
reports American Rivers (8/4). Removing the earthen portion of four dams
one option being considered by federal scientists and policymakers. More
than 200 scientists, and more than 350 businesses and organizations, have
endorsed dam removal.

In a related story, according to a study by the Corps of Engineers
by the Portland Oregonian, the removal of the four Lower Snake River dams
would result in the loss of less than 500 long-term jobs and the
10,000 short-term ones. “In the short term -- within 10 years of
the dams -- 10,671 jobs to 13,584 jobs would be added in the region,”
reports the Oregonian (7/30). In the long term, “20 years after breaching
would be the loss of 5,338 to 6,008 jobs and the offsetting creation of
3,796 to 4,722 new jobs.“ Corps officials say that the report is a
“predecisional draft” and was not meant for release.

Finally, “strobe lights, a man-made river and in-stream fish hatcheries
could help bring back salmon populations without removing four Snake
dams,” says Idaho congressional members and an Idaho industry group. As
reports the Associated Press (7/29), “salmon strongly dislike strobe
which can be placed underwater at hydroelectric dams to direct juvenile
into passages that would take them safely around the dams.”

     *     *     *

WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT: House and Senate negotiators agreed this
week to nearly double annual spending for habitat restoration along the
Upper Mississippi River. Legislators included a provision in the Water
Resources Development Act of 1999 (WRDA), which authorizes Corps of
Engineers projects and programs, to increase annual spending for the
Environmental Management Program (EMP) from $19.5 to $33.2 million. The
Senate approved WRDA, and the House is expected to this weekend. The bill
also creates a new committee of outside experts to review completed
projects, directs the Corps to develop a natural resources blueprint to
guide habitat restoration efforts, and urges the Corps to mimic the
natural ebb and flow when possible.

     *     *     *

SALMON: The three largest counties in Washington state -- King, Pierce
Snohomish -- have come together to form the Tri-County Executive
to raise funds for local governments, tribes and nonprofit groups to help
restore threatened salmon. The Committee will seek funds from
and individuals, rather than the government, so that their salmon saving
strategies do not rely on the actions of the state legislator or the
governor, reports the Wall Street Journal (8/4).

     *     *     *

WATER TEMPERATURE: The US EPA has “rejected Oregon's plan to set 68
as the peak temperature standard for 50 miles of the Willamette
from its mouth to the Yamhill River,” reports the Oregonian (8/6), but
endorse the state’s decision to set 64 degrees as the maximum temperature
for most other rivers and streams in Oregon.  Some of the state rivers
streams do exceed 80 degrees in the summer, which threatens the health of
salmon, steelhead trout and bulltrout. According to the Oregonian, salmon
need temperatures of 55 degrees or cooler during spawning, incubation and
hatching seasons, because warmer water can cause the fish to hatch
and leaves the cold-water fish vulnerable to disease. Lowering those
temperatures will require changes in industry, forestry and agricultural
practices, with urban areas likely seeing higher sewer bills and
restrictions on development and landscaping.

     *     *     *

AGRICULTURAL WASTE: Guidelines were released this week by the US EPA that
“detail the pollution rules the agency wants states to impose on factory
farms as part of the Clinton administration's broad campaign for stricter
water protection standards,” reports the Washington Post (7/6).
Environmentalists oppose the guidelines, however, saying they give states
too much discretion in setting the details. The EPA intends the
to be used by state environmental agencies to control farm waste runoff
issuing pollution permits to factory farms requiring safe disposal of
and the prevention of waste leaks. Each state has discretion in
how much waste is used as fertilizer and what limits are placed on sheds
lagoons. Currently, only some 2,000 livestock operations are guided by
pollution permits. The new guidelines would apply to some 18,000
with another 430,000 escaping regulations unless individual states elect
force them to heed those regulations.

In an effort to protect drinking water, the Kansas Dept. of Health and
Environment will require hog farms with more than 10,000 animals to line
waste pits with plastic to keep manure out of groundwater supplies. As
reports the Wichita Eagle (8/3), environmentalists and water supply
welcome the move, but fear it doesn’t go far enough since many of the hog
farms threatening heavily populated areas are medium sized farms which
not impacted by the new requirements. Large facilities do not normally
locate near heavily-populated areas. On the other side of the coin, hog
producers say the action goes too far and that “there is no evidence that
hog farms pollute and the action by the secretary of Kansas Department of
Health and Environment is unnecessary.” The issue is a hot one in Kansas
since Seaboard Farms has announced plans to build a packaging plant near
Great Bend that would process 4 million hogs a year, twice the number
currently raised in Kansas.

     *     *     *

NAUGATUCK RIVER: The state of Connecticut will receive $1.2 million from
Uniroyal Chemical Co. in settlement of an environmental lawsuit that
the company with illegally dumping hazardous waste into a
plant on the Naugatuck River, reports the Hartford Courant (8/4). $1
will be earmarked for restoration of the river, and the additional
will be paid to the state treasury as a fine. According to the state, the
company “failed to prevent spills into the sewage-treatment plant, dumped
industrial sludge into the plant without first testing to see if it was
hazardous, discharged sludge that created an explosion hazard and failed
stay within pollution limits for wastewater from chemical and pesticide
PENSACOLA BAY: The Pensacola Bay is benefiting from the work of the
nonprofit Pensacola Bay Ecosystem Management Advisory Council which is
asking Congress for $32 million over four years for restoration projects.
This funding would help the states of Florida and Alabama administer a
series of restoration projects in the two states affecting 7,000 square
miles and 900 miles of rivers and streams. The money will be used in
divert runoff in five major gullies. The nonprofit council is led by Ward
Brewer, a self-described used car salesman for the environment with no
college degree and a limited environmental background, reports the Wall
Street Journal (8/4). Some environmentalists doubt his qualifications to
lead such a large project, or that nonpoint source pollution is the
threat to the area.

     *     *     *

COLORADO RIVER: The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California,
Imperial Irrigation District, and the Coachella Valley Water District
come to an agreement in the allocation of Colorado River water. Details
settling their long-running dispute over water use have not been
but deal with how the water will be saved, stored, bought and sold.  Each
agency has agreed to “accept less water than which they believe they are
entitled, to pay more for the infrastructure transporting that water and
to file lawsuits against each other over conservation squabbles,” reports
the AP (8/5). As reports the AP, this ends “the state's decades-old
of taking more than its share of the river.”

     *     *     *

LOGGING: Nine federal timber sales were put on hold this week by U.S.
District Judge William Dwyer, saying the government failed to properly
survey the logging units for dozens of species and therefore violated the
Northwest Forest Plan. 100 timber sales on U.S. Forest Service and
Land Management land could potentially be impacted by the ruling. As
the Portland Oregonian (8/3), “The judge, however, ruled against the
conservationist groups on their request to force the government to reopen
the Northwest Forest Plan and consider whether additional protections are
required for salmon and other species.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked
Agriculture Undersecretary James Lyons to arrange meetings on the species
survey requirement.

     *     *     *

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has withdrawn its
1995 proposal to place the least chub on the federal list of endangered
species, reports the Salt Lake Tribune (7/31).  Found only in a few
areas in western Utah, the chub has now been discovered in two more
locations, and is experiencing a successful reintroduction effort at the
Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge. The Agency is convinced that the
is now no longer likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.

Protection of the endangered Rio Grande silver minnow is at stake as
water officials and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District file
lawsuits to force federal biologists to analyze and disclose the costs of
protecting its habitat, reports the Albuquerque Journal (8/5). A ruling
issued by the Service last month requires enough water in a 170-mile
of the Rio Grande to protect the fish and save the river in a period of
severe water shortage. Farmers and others water users fear the impact of
ruling on their livelihoods.  Santa Fe-based Forest Guardians and
Defenders of Wildlife are working to oppose the sate and irrigators.

Finally, the endangered tidewater goby is endangering the future
of a 16-mile, $644 million freeway link in southern Orange County. The US
Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a plan that designates an area of
wetlands along the California coast as critical habitat for the fish,
if finalized, could stop construction of the Foothill South Toll Road, a
highway linking Mission Viejo and the Anaheim hills. A spokesperson for
Joint Powers Agencies of Orange County says the road will likely still be
built with adjustments to protect critical habitat, reports the San Diego
Union-Tribune (8/4).

     *     *     *

HUDSON RIVER: PCBs in the Hudson River pose an exceptionally high risk of
cancer to people who consume fish from the northern part of the river,
reports the New York Times (8/5). Released by the US EPA, the report
detailing the contamination says levels of PCBs cause a cancer risk 1,000
times higher than the EPA’s goal for protection, and 10 times greater
the highest risk level allowed under the federal Superfund Law. This
bad news for General Electric who is most likely responsible for the
after releasing PCBs in the river from the 1940s until 1977. The report
increases significantly the likelihood of the river being dredged to
the contamination.


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