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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Maybe they'll drive them upstream in Smart cars

The Portland Water Bureau's doing a lot of talking about fish all of a sudden. I believe they're already releasing water somehow from the Bull Run reservoir into the Little Sandy River to help the salmon going in and out of there, and today they announced, somewhat ominously: "In the next few months, we will be telling you more about how the Portland Water Bureau is planning to step up and make substantial commitments to fish restoration for the next 50 years."

Hard to see how it isn't going to come down to Fish vs. People over water. And you already know where the old Eco-Fireman's going to come out. Should make for some fascinating conversation in the blogosphere.

Comments (12)

This isn't something they just dreamed up all of a sudden. It's a response to the endangered species act and federal efforts to restore salmon habitat. They can't simply do nothing on this issue. There are well-funded, litigious enviro-nut groups out there who want the dams ripped out. I'll let him speak for himself, but I think Fireman Randy prefers drinking Bull Run water to groundwater or, heavan forbid, Willamette water.

Cheney will fix this.

There are well-funded, litigious enviro-nut groups out there who want the dams ripped out. I'll let him speak for himself, but I think Fireman Randy prefers drinking Bull Run water to groundwater...

We're already drinking groundwater blended with Bull Run, "Frank."

You might want to share who's an "environ-nut group" in your opinion. But the reality is that we've way too many damns, destroying way too many streams and rivers and the fish that swim in them.

Sometimes Mother Nature is right, and the presumption that we can restrain her behind concrete has been shown, again and again, to result in folly and tragedy.

Too many damn dams. Too damn many.

This isn't something they just dreamed up all of a sudden.

I wish they'd tell us what "this" is. Those of us who are actually capable of analyzing the issue will have to wait a "few months" to hear what's going to happen. But for the mindless "green, sustainable" knee-jerk set, they figure they might as well start the PR today.

Fireman Randy's back from Italy and it's time to get out there on the re-election campaign trail. I'm sure he's hoping to win re-election outright in the 2008 primary, which is less than a year away.

I actually went to an open house on this subject of releasing water for the fish and asked about its affect on our water supply. The little city zombie didn’t seem to care.

Of course we could build a third reservoir and quit using ground water, but that would cost almost as much as a new streetcar line.


Frank is right. We have developed a fish habitat plan in cooperation with the federal governtment in order to avoid being successfully sued under various federal acts regarding fish habitat in the Bull Run River. This has been an on going and outstaning effort for some years by our Resource Protection Group in the Water Bureau led by Edward Campbell.

I have been very supportive of finding the right balance of releasing enough water in the summer months to allow fish in the Bull Run River (not the Sandy, although the confluence of the Bull Run
River with the Sandy River is at Dodge Park...a beauftiful Water Bureau owned facility all by itself...if you go, you can enjoy some of the improvements we have been making at the park in the last 18 months.) to survive and propagate.

We release just enough water into the river to allow for survivability of the fish while understanding that we must balance that with having enough reserve to provide dirinking water to Portland Water Bureau Customers. Those assigned that task use techniques that I will not even begin to try and explain that scientifically attempt to determine the proper discharge needed into the Bull Run River.

I will ask David Shaff if he would care to join in the discussion. He will be able to provide much more detail.

And by the way, I would have provided this answer whether I was running for election or not.

"we must balance that with having enough reserve to provide dirinking water to Portland Water Bureau Customers"

Drinking water? So I should be showering somewhere else?


The Water Bureau has been working on the Bull Run Water Supply Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for more than 5 years since Coho and Chinook were first listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in the Columbia Basin. When this happened, the City of Portland became subject to the requirement of the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. In order to comply with these laws, the city must prepare and submit a Habitat Conservation Plan.

We have been communicating regularly with advisory committees and stakeholder organizations and individuals in the Sandy River basin and our service area community. We have provided briefings to the Large Water Users Coalition and the Portland Utility Review Board. We have strived to educate and inform the general public on salmon and drinking water issues and the HCP through educational workshops, Bull Run tours, and staffing local public events. We have also discussed this issue with our Community Budget Committee.

None of these outreach activities were required by federal law; we do it because we want our ratepayers and the public to be aware and informed.

Local media has also followed the planning process.

For example, the plan was featured in a front-page Oregonian article on June 8, 2005, and was the topic of an OPB report by Rob Manning yesterday. We took a bus full of interested community organization stakeholders including media into Bull Run to talk about the issues and Rob filed the following report today:

The Portland Utility Review Board has provided comments to the federal agencies responsible for compliance of the Endangered Species Act regarding the public comment process for the HCP and the accompanying Environmental Impact Statement. This process will begin sometime this fall, when both documents will be released. The public will be invited to comment on them directly to the federal regulatory agencies. The bureau will do everything it can to inform the public of the opportunity to engage in the comment process.

Portland is blessed to have the Bull Run watershed under its stewardship. It is a very productive and high quality water source. How much of that water we should release for fish is part science and part negotiation with our regulators. The federal services that enforce the Endangered Species Act would probably like for the city to release more water than it has agreed to provide. However, over the last five years we believe we have identified flow levels that are adequate to provide habitat and spawning conditions for fish without causing conflicts with municipal demand. We now have a five-year track record in which there have been no fish v. human water conflicts on the Bull Run and the federal services have, so far, agreed that these flow release levels are adequate. If the HCP is adopted and enacted, the city will gain certainty through a contractual relationship that these flow releases will be adequate for the next 50 years.

Any of your readers who would like to go on one of our public tours of the watershed would be welcome. During our tours, we talk about balancing our obligations toward fish while still providing drinking water to ¼ of the state’s population. It’s a great opportunity to see what it takes to bring water “From Forest to Faucet”.

David G. Shaff

We have developed a fish habitat plan in cooperation with the federal governtment in order to avoid being successfully sued under various federal acts regarding fish habitat in the Bull Run River.

Any chance of us mere mortal humans, who drink and pay for the water from up there, seeing this plan?

Yes, but it's the size of a telephone book and tough to post online.

I will have staff work on Monday to see if we can post the whole thing in one file or chunk it into pieces that can be easily downloaded.

I will post a link to it when it's done.


I appreciate that, David. Boiling it down somewhat into an executive summary might also be a good idea. I know that it's a moving target, but too often the city shows the public what it's doing too late.

BTW, despite my general cynicism toward government, I actually trust you and Randy to get this right.


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