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Commentaries and editorials

Groups to Sue Over Flow Augmentation Policies

by CBB
Columbia Basin Bulletin - November 19, 1999

Conservation and fishing organizations this week sent a "notice of intent to sue" over flow augmentation policies in the Columbia River Basin.

The groups say the Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers, and Bonneville Power Administration have failed to respond to the National Marine Fisheries Service's flow augmentation policies outlined in hydropower biological opinions addressing endangered or threatened salmon and steelhead.

NMFS has set flow targets at Lower Granite Dam and McNary Dam and has told the agencies they must secure additional water for increased flows in order to meet those targets.

In a press release announcing the intent to sue, the conservation and fishing organizations say "the agencies for several years have failed to undertake most of the measures to improve water flows, and flows in the Snake and Columbia continue to fall below levels determined by NMFS to be the minimum necessary to avoid serious threats to fish."

The groups involved in the notice to sue are the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association, the Institute for Fisheries Resources, Trout Unlimited, WaterWatch of Oregon and the Sierra Club. They are represented by Todd True and Jan Hasselman of the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund in Seattle and Dan Rolf of the Northwest Environmental Defense Center in Portland.

The intent to sue letter says the most of the measures called for by NMFS would not be necessary if the four dams on the Lower Snake River are bypassed. "The lawsuit," says Hasselman, "presents the government with a choice between substantially increasing the amount of water Idaho must dedicate to augmenting river flows, or agreeing to bypass the lower Snake River dams."

by CBB
Groups to Sue Over Flow Augmentation Policies
Columbia Basin Bulletin, November 19, 1999

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