Foster Reservoir on the South Santiam river. Photo: Conrad Gowell

Environmental Assessment: Willamette reservoir water allocation

The Army Corps of Engineers was directed in a 2008 Biological Opinion by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) to improve conditions for threatened and endangered fish in the Willamette Basin. This directive included what are known as reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid jeopardy of the species. One of those reasonable and prudent alternatives (RPA's) was to meet flow objectives in the mainstream Willamette River. Now, the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing how they plan to allocate water into the future between agricultural, industrial, and municipal interests when in-stream flows are unable to be met, and the fish are being cut short. Even now, the needs of fish are not being met, so continuing to divide up water will only continue to harm ESA-listed salmon and steelhead.

In drafting our comments, the Native Fish Society collaborated with River Stewards, the McKenzie Fly Fishers, and Waterwatch of Oregon. Our letter points out the weaknesses of the Army Corps of Engineers' Environmental Assessment, and proposes the Army Corps of Engineers focus on re-initiating consultation on the 2008 biological opinion if the reasonable and prudent alternatives are unable to be met.

Comments on the plan are being taken until January 6th, 2018.

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