Water Release from Dam for Salmon Upheldby Associated Press
Pakistan Daily Times, August 2, 2004
A federal judge on Wednesday ruled the US government must keep spilling enough water over dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers this summer to help the migration of juvenile salmon.
US District Judge James Redden issued a preliminary injunction against the Army Corps of Engineers to block a proposed cutback of the spill starting next week by the Bonneville Power Administration.
The BPA had argued the effect on fish would be minimal, but reducing the spill at four key Northwest dams could save ratepayers $18 million to $28 million in electricity costs this year. Redden rejected that argument, saying the long-term environmental health of the region outweighed the short-term economic benefits of using the water to increase hydroelectricity production this summer.
Redden announced his ruling to a courtroom packed with attorneys and representatives of federal agencies, Northwest Indian tribes and conservation groups. “It’s a difficult case, but my job is to consider the Endangered Species Act and the fate of juvenile salmon,” Redden said, calling the summer spill plan “arbitrary and capricious.” The BPA had received federal approval to reduce spill in August at the Ice Harbor and John Day dams on the Snake River, and the Bonneville and The Dalles dams on the Columbia.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dams, also approved the plan on July 6, prompting the lawsuit seeking the injunction.
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