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Dams Not Killing Salmon, Corps report says

by Associated Press
The Idaho Statesman, May 17, 2001

PORTLAND -- Responding to a federal court order, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers insists that Snake River dam operations aren't overheating the water and killing salmon, and no changes in dam operations will cool the water.

Last February, U.S. District Judge Helen Frye found that the corps' operation of four Snake River dams in Eastern Washington violated the Clean Water Act by raising water temperatures to levels dangerous to fish. She ordered the corps to produce a report in 60 days on how it would meet federal water quality standards.

The ruling added weight to arguments that removing the four dams was necessary to save threatened and endangered runs of salmon in the Snake River Basin from extinction.

In papers filed Tuesday, the corps said the existence of the dams "may contribute" to raising the water temperature in the river. But the corps concluded that operating the dams "has no significant impact on water temperatures.

"There are no operational changes that we can undertake to significantly decrease river water temperatures," the report said.

"I am very, very disheartened by the corps' response," said Kristen Boyles, a lawyer with Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund in Seattle, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of environmentalists, the state of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe.

"This will not go unchallenged in some way because the corps' punt on this issue -- to say `Oh yeah, we'll consider it. Oh yeah, it's not a problem!' -- is shameless," Boyles said Wednesday.

David Pongaris, a Portland-based environmental program manager for the corps, said the report complies with the court order.

He said the corps continues to monitor water quality and study the problem while looking for solutions.

"There hasn't been a lot of analysis conducted in the basin on understanding what potential alternatives are out there that would reduce the effects of the projects (dams) and their operation," Pongaris said.

Associated Press
Dams Not Killing Salmon, Corps report says
The Idaho Statesman, May 17, 2001

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