Portland General Electric Releases Report and Results Of Two Year Study of Lower Deschutes Macroinvertebrates and Periphyton

Study described as finding “post-Selective Water Withdrawal conditions similar to pre-Selective Water Withdrawal, or improved.” The final report for the Portland General Electric Company’s Lower Deschutes River Macroinvertebrate and Periphyton Study was presented on April 6th and 8th, at meetings hosted by PGE.  R2 Resource Consultants of Redmond, Washington conducted the study, which was completed under contract to, and funded by, PGE.  It was a two-year study conducted over two months (April and October) each year starting in October 2013.  The study was a required condition of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing of the Pelton-Round Butte Hydroelectric Complex.

Yes, you read the stated conclusion of the study correctly.  Conditions in the lower Deschutes River are “not significantly different, post implementation of surface water withdrawal at Round Butte Dam in 2009, than conditions prior to surface water withdrawal.” In fact, according Tim Nightengale of R2 Resource Consultants, the “health of the river is probably better(!) now.”   (We have been unable to find this actual statement in the published version of the study.)  So why the serious disconnect between the described study results and what we are seeing on the lower Deschutes River?

As one property owner said at the Portland presentation of the study results, “I’ve been on the river for over fifty years and the river has never looked like it has in the last few years.”  His disappointment was that none of the negative changes are reflected in the report.  We had the same disappointment.

Again, why the disconnect?

Over the next few months we’ll be answering that question.  The full published version of the study is a 283-page pdf file.  It will take us some time to fully analyze the study and its purported results.   There appear to be a large number of issues that require full examination.

We will also be sending the study out for review and analysis to independent experts.  Following those reviews, we will be publishing an analysis and critique of the study.  We expect this process to take two to three months.

For now, we do want to be clear that we already see some troubling statements and findings in the report.  We will be following up on some of those statements via this blog, prior to publication of the comprehensive review.

Copies of the full report are available here (pdf):



Unusual bloom of algae in March of 2016, approximately one mile below Pelton Reregulation Dam. Photo by Rick Hafele.

Greg McMillan and Larry Marxer taking water quality measurements in February, 2016. Photo by Andrew Dutterer.


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