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At Last Corps Needs to Fix Snake Dams

by Editorial Board
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - February 26, 2001

It should not come as a surprise to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials that they are in violation of the Clean Water Act at the four lower Snake River dams -- which some critics have argued should be breached to save salmon.

What apparently is a surprise to corps officials is that they're finally required to do something to protect the endangered fish.

A U.S. District Court judge in Portland has ruled that the corps must propose a way to change operation of the dams within 60 days. The water temperature must be lowered and nitrogen releases must be curtailed, the court said.

The court said "it was clear error of judgment by the corps not to address compliance with its legal obligations under the Clean Water Act."

The court did not address the even more compelling question of whether the polluted Columbia River must meet Clean Water Act standards. The silence on that subject is deafening.

For now, all that's required is that the corps cope with the expense and challenge of modifying its operations at the dams -- which provide roughly the amount of power needed by a city the size of Seattle -- to make them fish-friendly.

Dam critics say even that will be so expensive that it would be cheaper to tear down the dams and be done with it.

Stay tuned.

Editorial Board
At Last Corps Needs to Fix Snake Dams
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 26, 2001

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