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Judge Changes Court Schedule To Allow For Deschutes River Spill Consideration
Posted on Friday, March 02, 2018 (PST)

A motion for more spill at Pelton Round Butte’s reregulation dam on the Deschutes River will move forward next week, according to a U.S. District Court of Oregon decision.


Judge Michael H. Simon, after a conference call this week with the parties to the Deschutes River water quality suit brought by plaintiffs Deschutes River Alliance against defendant Portland General Electric, told DRA to file its motion for summary judgment asking for spill at the dam by March 5. He made the decision in a Feb. 26 order.


Simon had already approved a schedule Jan. 17 that would work towards completion of the original lawsuit initially brought to his court in August 2016, but DRA filed in February to amend that schedule to carve out time for a spill request. After nearly two years, the parties have yet to argue the merits of the case.


PGE says it already spills water annually at the reregulation dam in order to increase dissolved oxygen in downstream water. The reregulation dam is wholly-owned by PGE’s co-owners of the Pelton Round Butte project, the Confederated Tribes of the Warms Springs Indian Reservation.


(See CBB, February 23, 2018, “Deschutes River Alliance Seeks New Court Schedule To Allow For Spill Request At Pelton-Round Butte,”


Simon went on in his Feb. 26 order to set a schedule for briefs by all parties that will conclude the spill arguments in late June, and oral arguments are set for 10 am, July 17, in Courtroom 15B in Portland.


Only after a decision on spill will Simon entertain continuing arguments in the original lawsuit, pushing a pretrial conference to 2 pm, Nov. 19, Courtroom 15B, also in Portland and a 10-day bench trial is set for Dec. 3, 2018, 9 am in Courtroom 15B.


The original lawsuit alleges that PGE and the Tribes are responsible for water quality issues in the lower 100 miles of the Deschutes River downstream of the dams due to a $90 million 273-foot tall selective water withdrawal tower in Lake Billy Chinook. The tower is a surface attractor and helps juveniles find their way downstream to the dam where they are trapped, marked and transported below the dams. It is an integral part of efforts to reintroduce salmon and steelhead upstream of the dams, but DRA says it is also impacting water quality downstream of the complex of dams.


Simon had approved additional spill at eight Columbia and Snake river dams in a separate case decided April 3, 2017, but he put off ordering more spill until April 2018. The request for injunctive relief for more spill was enjoined with the earlier case argued in his court that resulted in a May 2016 remand of the federal Columbia River power system biological opinion for salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act. His spill order is currently be heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


Also see:


--CBB, January 19, 2018, “Parties Agree To Court Schedule In Deschutes River Flow, Water Temperature Case,”


--CBB, January 12, 2018, “Plaintiffs In Spill For Fish Case File Reply Briefs In Ninth Circuit; Oral Arguments In March,”


--CBB, August 25, 2017, “Ninth Circuit Declines PGE Request On Deschutes River Case, Lawsuit Continues In Lower Court,”


--CBB, June 2, 2017, “Portland General/Deschutes River Alliance Dispute Over Lower Deschutes Goes To Ninth Circuit,”


--CBB, May 5, 2017, “PGE Again Asks District Court to Move Deschutes Clean Water/Salmon Reintroduction Case To Ninth,”


--CBB, April 14, 2017, “PGE Seeks Appeal In Ninth Circuit On Deschutes Clean Water/Salmon Reintroduction Case,”


--CBB, April 7, 2017, “Judge Denies PGE Request To Dismiss Deschutes Clean Water Lawsuit Related To Salmon Reintroduction,”


-- CBB, February 10, 2017, “States Weigh In On Deschutes River Clean Water Case Related To Salmon/Steelhead Re-introduction,”


--CBB, January 27, 2017, “Upper Deschutes Salmon Reintroduction: Genetic Testing Confirms Returning Sockeye From Mid-Deschutes,”


--CBB, November 4,, 2016, “Portland General Pushing For Dismissal Of Deschutes Water Quality Case; Outlines FERC Process,”


--CBB, September 16, 2016, “Portland General Lays Out Several Defenses It Might Use In Deschutes River/Clean Water Act Lawsuit,”


--CBB, August 26, 2016, “Deschutes River Alliance Sues PGE Over Water Quality Issues In Deschutes River; Sockeye Reaching Dam,”


-- CBB, April 17, 2015, “Upper Deschutes Basin Reintroduction: Steelhead Seen Spawning Upstream Of Lake Billy Chinook,”


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