A U.S. district court says Oregon must develop new plans to keep the state’s rivers from getting too warm for fish.
A ruling Friday set a series of deadlines that cover more than a dozen rivers, including the Willamette, Umpqua, Rogue, John Day, Columbia and Snake.
Federal law requires Oregon have plans in place to ensure that the state’s rivers don’t get too warm. These plans are referred to as TMDLs (total maximum daily loads) under the federal Clean Water Act. Oregon’s current TMDLs for temperature are permissive enough to kill salmon and steelhead, which rely on cold water to survive.
Nina Bell is executive director of Northwest Environmental Advocates, a plaintiff in the case. She said this ruling is a victory, but the real test comes after the plans are in place.
“It still leaves it in the lap of Oregon agencies and elected officials as to whether they’re going to use these plans to address Oregon’s largest sources of water temperature in our streams and rivers and that is the logging, farming and taking water out of the streams,” she said.
Depending on the location, the state will have between four and eight years to get the work done.