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Historic Settlement Signed at Pelton Round ButteSubmitted by John Seebach on Tue, 2004-07-13 08:00
A 2004 historic settlement agreement will allow fish to pass three enormous dams on the mainstem Deschutes for the first time in decades. Co-signed by joint owners Portland General Electric and Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs and 20 other agencies and organizations, the settlement agreement restores flow, water quality and fish habitat through the project area. Signatories included HRC members American Rivers, WaterWatch of Oregon, Oregon Trout, and Trout Unlimited.July 13, 2004 For more information please contact:Mark Fryburg, PGE, 503-464-8444Bill Rhoades, CTWS, 541-553-2013Frank Quimby, DOI, 202-208-7291For additional details and images, visit PGE's Pelton Round Butte website. Only U.S. hydro project co-owned by utility and Native American tribeWarm Springs, Ore. — Salmon and steelhead will migrate past a large series of dams for the first time since 1968, under the terms of an historic multiparty agreement to be signed today. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton is announcing the agreement at a ceremony in Warm Springs, Ore.The pact is one of the final steps in obtaining a new federal license for Pelton Round Butte, the only hydroelectric project in the United States jointly owned by a Native American tribe and a utility. The 465-million watt project is one-third owned by Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs (CTWS) and the remainder owned by Portland General Electric (PGE). The 20-mile long complex impounds the Deschutes River, a federal Wild and Scenic River and a tributary of the Columbia, about six miles west of Madras, Ore. The three dams, rising to as high as 440 feet, blocked salmon and steelhead migration in the Deschutes, Metolius and Crooked rivers above the project 36 years ago.A total of 22 organizations and government agencies, including the project owners, endorsed the agreement. The signing takes place at the Museum at Warm Springs on the Warm Springs Reservation.“The settlement demonstrates how water management and hydroelectric operations can be carried out in innovative ways that protect tribal resources, enhance the environment and aid in the recovery of threatened species,” Secretary Norton said. “With sound science, cutting-edge technology and creative solutions, we can have both healthy rivers and thriving communities.” Officials praised the agreement for its positive economic and environmental impact. Besides potentially reopening 226 miles of streams above the dams to fish migration, the plan allows for continued production of low-cost hydroelectric power at the facility, improves the Tribes' fish harvest and benefits recreational fishing.“This agreement sets the bar for other dam operators in the Northwest and across the country. PGE, CTWS and the other settlement parties have proven that by working together, we can achieve great outcomes for this river's health, its salmon and steelhead, and its people,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers.“For all of the families who enjoy the Deschutes today, and for those future generations who will fish its waters, run its rapids and view its wildlife in the years to come, this agreement is cause for great celebration.” In the 1990s, the Tribes and PGE began planning for relicensing the project and restoring fish passage became the top priority. “Many generations will benefit from this agreement,” said CTWS Council Chairman Ron Suppah. “The next 50 years under this new license will create a blueprint for wise natural resources management that is so important to our Indian people and financial resources that are vital to the tribal organization. Adding electric power generation has diversified our economic base and supported programs ranging from public safety to health and education.” “PGE and the Tribes share the stewardship of one of the West' s most precious resources, the Deschutes River,” said Peggy Fowler, PGE CEO and president. “Our customers depend on us to do the right thing for the environment. They also depend on us for electricity that powers vital aspects of everyday life. We're committed to deliver on both obligations.” The hydro project, the largest located completely within Oregon' s borders, was completed by PGE in 1964. Although it was constructed with fish passage facilities, the downstream system failed. Under the environmental policies of that era, raising fish in a hatchery was an appropriate way to offset the impact. The fish passage problem was created in large part by the downstream currents in a reservoir taking a wrong turn. Young salmon and steelhead following the currents rarely found their way to the ocean. The solution will be a 270-foot high underwater tower arising from the bottom of the lake behind Round Butte Dam. A 130-foot wide disc at the top of the tower will draw in most of the surface water, turning the currents and fish back downstream toward the dam. Fish will be screened at the intake and trucked downstream of the dams for release on their journey to the Pacific. The tower will also blend waters from various depths to improve the conditions, including water temperatures, for downstream fish. Species to be reintroduced above the dams include summer steelhead (a federally listed threatened species) and spring Chinook salmon. Resident kokanee should naturally convert to sockeye salmon as they head downstream. PGE and the Tribes are prepared to spend more than $135 million dollars on the project during the 50-year term of the license, the vast majority going to fish-related measures. More than $21 million is planned for fish habitat improvement on Deschutes River tributaries, including water rights acquisition. The project' s reservoirs and their shores are popular recreation sites, including camping, fishing, boating and water skiing. The plans do not restrict recreation and should actually improve recreational fishing for salmon and steelhead over the long run through increased populations and better habitat.The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to act on the new license in late 2004 or early 2005.# # #PGE is a recognized leader in the utility industry with more than 115 years of experience delivering safe and reliable electricity. Serving more than 754,000 retail customers in northwest Oregon, the company supports the community through a variety of environmental efforts. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs is a federally recognized Indian Tribe with 4,312 members. Its reservation in north Central Oregon covers 1,000 square miles.