Fish & Wildlife | Water | Ecotrope

I wouldn't want it in my mouth

Ecotrope | July 25, 2010 3:28 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:48 p.m.

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columbia-river

Image courtesy of Flickr user evelynishere

Overlooking the Columbia River

The U.S. Senate is being asked to fund a bill that would give the lower Columbia River a good scrubbing. The Columbia River Restoration Act of 2010 was introduced in the Senate in February. Haven’t heard much about it since.

The bill addresses one problem Columbia River advocacy groups haven’t been able to solve – even after all the strides taken to improve and restore fish and wildlife habitat.

The river is still loaded with toxics – some from decades ago and others still pouring in through stormwater runoff and sewer outflows. The legacy pesticides and industrial chemicals, flame retardants and pharmaceuticals enter the river from here, there and everywhere (in fact, nobody knows exactly where it all comes from), and it all settles near the mouth.

Retired Oregon State University Sea Grant extension agent Jim Bergeron, also a former Port of Astoria commissioner, relayed a witty take on the issue awhile back: “Some folks say it shouldn’t be called the mouth of the river.”

Incidentally, a lot of new habitat restoration for salmon is taking place in the estuary. And the toxics detected in the river are no good for these protected fish (sublethal is the term, I believe).

It’s not going to be cheap to clean up what’s already in the river and monitor what is still flowing in – it could cost up to $40 million a year. But don’t you love that clean-mouth feeling?

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