Clean Water or Clearcuts for Oregon?




Big decisions are looming for management of 2.8 million acres of Oregon’s public forestlands – an area covering the size of more than eight Crater Lake National Parks. Because legislation concerning management of the so-called O&C lands could end up undermining some of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, Oregonians aren’t the only ones with a stake in the issue.


Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is proposing legislation that would increase clearcut logging closer to streams, on steep slopes and unstable soils, and would allow the use of toxic herbicides, which would compromise clean drinking water for 1.8 million Oregonians.


The proposal also threatens several thousand miles of habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead in iconic river systems like the North Umpqua, Illinois, Rogue, McKenzie, and Nestucca.


Conservation groups including American Rivers, Pacific Rivers Council, and the Wild Salmon Center are urging Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to craft an O&C lands bill with stronger protections for clean water and salmon.


This short video, Forests to Faucets: Clean Water or Clearcuts? provides a great overview of what’s at stake for Oregon’s clean water. I was happy to participate in the creation of the video (I’m the mom at the end) because clean drinking water is so fundamental to our well-being, and I want my kids to be able to swim, float, catch fish, and experience the wild beauty of places like the North Umpqua and the Rogue.


Watch the video and learn more about the need to protect clean drinking water on Oregon’s O&C forest lands.


Ratepayer advocates, fluoride foes seek to take water oversight away from Portland council

PORTLAND, Oregon — A coalition of ratepayer advocates and water-purity activists filed an initiative petition Thursday to take the management of Portland’s water and sewers from the City Council.

If approved by voters, an elected board of seven unpaid representatives would oversee the city’s water, sewer and storm-water systems.

What role would be left for Mayor Charlie Hales and the four city commissioners? “None,” said Kent Craford, one of the chief petitioners. “That’s the point. We’re removing professional politicians from any oversight or involvement into Portland’s water and sewer system.”

Advocates must collect almost 30,000 valid signatures to get the initiative on the May ballot.

Water and sewer rates have each jumped by 160 percent since 2000, and advocates assign partial blame to expensive failures — like $30 million lost on a failed billing system — and politicians dipping into Water Bureau funds to pay for projects unrelated to water-and-sewer service, such as downtown public bathrooms.

“We’re really confident that ratepayers are ticked, and they’re ready to do something about it,” said Craford, who is also the director of the Portland Water Users Coalition, which includes Portland businesses that use lots of water.

Supporters of cheaper rates are joined in the initiative by activists who thwarted the city’s effort to put fluoride in the drinking water and are upset by the city’s recent decision to stop fighting a federal mandate to cover open reservoirs.

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the only member of City Council who wants to keep battling on the reservoir issue, said in a statement that she opposes the proposed Portland Public Water District, even though she has voted against rate increases the past three years.

“Portlanders may assume I’d favor the proposed Utility District,” she said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. I do not support the creation of a new experimental body which would take control of our precious Bull Run watershed, and of our water and environmental management systems that are the envy of the nation.”

Under Portland’s commission form of government, the mayor and four city commissioners share executive branch duties, with each running at least one city bureau. Commissioner Nick Fish took over the Water Bureau last month, and Fritz said he deserves a “fair opportunity” to stabilize rates and improve accountability.

Fish said he’s confident voters will see the initiative as a “misguided effort” when its merits are debated in the spring.

“We have the best drinking water of any city in America, and for 115 years we’ve been good stewards of the Bull Run watershed,” he said. “What’s the problem we’re trying to fix? Is it a disagreement with the EPA over reservoirs? Well, occupy the EPA, but why create a new layer of government.”


Petition to stop Warren Buffet from putting algaecide in Klamath River

Petition by Regina Chichizola, United States

Recently PacifiCorp quietly submitted a plan to apply toxins for the second year to Klamath River reservoirs as an algae killing experiment. River users, including fisherman and Native American Tribes unanimously oppose this action citing last year’s studies that show killing the algae actually releases the algae toxin, microcystin, at a time of year when people are in the Klamath River.

Levels of microcystin behind PacifiCorp have consistently been up to 3000 times over the World Health Organization limits for recreation contact. This has lead to the entire river below the reservoirs has been declared a health hazard every late summer for the past five years. Studies, commissioned through the Klamath dam relicensing process have proven the reservoirs create the algae.

The fact is it is time for PacifiCorp to move forward with needed Clean Water Act certification to remove their dams, which create the algae problem. PacifiCorp has stated publicly they want to remove the dams, but have not taken any needed legal actions to support dam removal in years.

PacifiCorp’s has state this proposal is part of an experiment proposed under interim measures of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA). The KHSA is tied to Klamath water sharing legislation that died in the last Congress. Last year PacifiCorp did a simalr experiment without giving any notification of the chemical use to river users, or initiating public comment. This has lead parties to the KHSA that oppose chemical use in the Klamath River to initiate a conflict resolution process available for those who signed the agreement. However PacifiCorp has indicated they have no plans to initiate a public comment period or to notify the public of when the chemicals will be used.

This has lead to claims that PacifiCorp is using stalled out agreements to essentially make the Klamath a corporately controlled river. Needed Clean Water Act processes and other environmental regulations have been stalled by the promise of Klamath legislation for nearly a decade. It is time to move forward with dam removal