PNWA Nor'wester #227– Wednesday, July 27,2005

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals makes ruling on spill 
Federal agencies, four states present draft agreement on river operations
Fish Passage Center debate heating up
Change of Command for the Portland District of the Corps
Change of Command for the Northwestern Division of the Corps
Capitol Hill notes
PNWA staff activities


Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals makes ruling on spill

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this afternoon on the Government’s appeal of Judge Redden’s decision ordering more spill at the dams. The Ninth Circuit said, “In sum, we affirm the district court’s issuance of a preliminary injunction, but remand to the district court the question of whether the injunction should be more narrowly tailored or modified.”  They concluded that Judge Redden did not abuse his discretion in granting the preliminary injunction; they are sending the case back to the judge to determine if modification or “narrow tailoring” of the order is required to address problems that have developed during the spill. The appellate court urged the parties and Judge Redden to resolve the remanded issues as expeditiously as possible.

PNWA staff contact: Glenn Vanselow,, 503-234-8551

Federal agencies, four states present draft agreement on river operations

Navigation appears to be protected in a draft agreement between the federal agencies and the four states. The Corps of Engineers, NOAA Fisheries, BPA and Bureau of Reclamation and the four Northwest states are hosting a meeting in Spokane on July 27th to continue work on an agreement on Columbia River operations. PNWA and the Bonneville customer group have been invited to participate. This effort is related to the ongoing Biological Opinion federal lawsuit that has been before Judge James Redden for several years.

Key provisions of the draft agreement relating to navigation include:

  • The parties will “affirmatively pursue a non-breach, performance-based strategy….This strategy will first optimize river conditions for fish consistent with project purposes.”
  • “Operate Snake River reservoirs at MOP (Minimum Operation Pool) and John Day at MIP (Minimum Irrigation Pool)…for the spring and summer.”
  • “To enable MOP operations, the parties agree to support necessary and appropriate Corps actions, such as periodic maintenance dredging or other sediment management activities, on the Lower Snake River to provide authorized navigation features.”
  • “The Lower Snake River projects may operate at elevation higher than MOP because of (among others) navigation needs. The lower Snake River is authorized for navigation to Lewiston, Idaho. The navigation channel depth is 14 feet to accommodate commercial barge traffic. If the navigation channel is not 14 feet deep when the reservoirs are operating at MOP, the reservoirs must operate at a higher minimum elevation than MOP to allow commercial barge traffic.”

Hydropower interests are likely to have issues with other provisions in the agreement. It has a “shared savings” provision that is discussed at length. Essentially, the current level of spill would become the new baseline. If any additional salmon recovery measures are implemented, such as removable spillway weirs, that reduce the need for spill, half the savings from reduced spill will go to ratepayers and half will go to fish programs. This presents several issues. First, most hydropower interests don’t believe all of the spill established in the baseline program is justified. Another concern raised is that ratepayers will already be paying for many of these new measures, then they will have to give up half the savings from implementing them. An additional concern is that this proposal sets up a funding program for new fish programs, whether they are needed or not. As alternatives to spill become successful, they could well reduce the need for other programs, yet half the savings would still go to fund them.

The federal agencies and states are seeking to expand support for the agreement among river users, the tribes and, eventually, the plaintiffs in the Biological Opinion lawsuit. Their goal is to have this agreement serve as the basis for reaching a settlement on the issues before Judge Redden. A copy of the draft agreement is at

PNWA staff contact: Glenn Vanselow,, 503-234-8551

Fish Passage Center debate heating up

Rep. Adam Smith (D, WA-9) has circulated a letter among his colleagues to express concern with a proposal by Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) to shift funding from the Fish Passage Center to unbiased entities in the Northwest. Sen. Craig included language in the report (S. Rept. 109-84) that was attached to the Senate Energy & Water appropriations bill and passed by the full Senate on June 30 th. The language states that:

The Committee is concerned about the increasing cost of salmon recovery efforts in the Columbia River Basin, and about the potential adverse impact of those increased costs on customers of the Bonneville Power Administration. The Committee also is concerned about the quality and efficiency of some of the fish data collection efforts and analyses being performed. As a result, during fiscal year 2006, the Bonneville Power Administration may make no new obligations from the Bonneville Power Administration Fund in support of the Fish Passage Center. The Committee understands that there are universities in the Pacific Northwest that already collect fish data for the region and are well-positioned to take on the responsibilities now being performed by the Fish Passage Center, and that the universities can carry out those responsibilities at a savings to the region’s ratepayers that fund these programs.

Rep. Smith’s letter drew the signatures of the following Northwest members: David Wu (D, OR-1), Earl Blumenauer (D, OR-3), Darlene Hooley (D, OR-5), Jay Inslee (D, WA-1), Rick Larsen (D, WA-2), Brian Baird (D, WA-3), and Jim McDermott (D, WA-7).

PNWA supports Sen. Craig’s language, as we believe that a shift in funding to other respected Northwest research facilities this will improve the quality of monitoring and data collection that is so vital to well-informed, unbiased discussions of cost-effective salmon recovery efforts.

PNWA staff contact: Kristin Meira, , 503-234-8556

Change of Command for the Portland District of the Corps

On July 21 st, PNWA staff attended the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Portland District Change of Command Ceremony, where Col.l Thomas E. O’Donovan took over command for the district from Col. Richard W. Hobernicht. Col.l O’Donovan comes to the Northwest from Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where he was the Director of Training and Leader Development.

Col. O’Donovan will be directing one of the Corps’ most comprehensive and diversified civil works programs. The Portland District is responsible for the Corps’ water resource activities in western Oregon and southwestern Washington. Environmental protection and restoration, fish and wildlife protection and enhancement, hydropower production, navigation, flood damage reduction, recreation, and operation of the Corp’s center of expertise for hydropower and pump station engineering will be emphasized.

The former Commander of Portland District, Col. Richard W. Hobernicht has retired after 26 years of service. We are pleased to report that Col. Hobernicht will stay in Portland, and has accepted a position with Washington County. PNWA members and staff would like to say thank you for his extensive service to the country and to the Portland District, and we wish him and his family well as they enter a new chapter of their lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Change of Command for the Northwestern Division of the Corps

On July 22 nd, PNWA staff attended the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern Division Change of Command Ceremony. Col. Gregg F Martin received command of the Division from Brigadier General William T. Grisoli. As Commander and Division Engineer, Col. Martin will direct a 5200 member workforce and nearly $1.8 billion of civil, military and environmental programs within 14 states – from St. Louis to Seattle.

Previously, Col. Martin served in Heidelberg, Germany, as assistant Deputy Chief of Staff. The members and staff of PNWA would like to welcome Col. Martin to the Northwest and look forward to a successful and productive relationship.

PNWA wishes a fond farewell to Brigadier General William T. Grisoli, the former Northwest Division Commander. We have been honored to work with General Grisoli since 2003 on such projects as permit streamlining, Snake River dredging, funding for the Corps projects on the Columbia Snake River system, and shallow draft coastal port channel maintenance and jetty repairs. General Grisoli will become the Commander and Division Engineer of the North Atlantic Division in New York City, and we wish him well in this new assignment.

Capitol Hill notes

PNWA had earlier reported that legislative assistant Doug Clapp of Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-WA) had departed to head up Gov. Christine Gregoire’s new DC office. We are pleased to report that the Senator’s office has brought on a new staffer for this suite of issues: Carrie Desmond. For the past seven years, Desmond was employed by Battelle in their Washington, DC Office of External Relations, assigned to their Department of Energy business. These activities included working with Congress to support the DOE national laboratories Battelle runs under contract, including the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA. Desmond hails from Bethesda, Maryland. We wish her a warm welcome, and look forward to introducing PNWA members to the newest member of Senator Murray’s Capitol Hill staff.

PNWA staff contact: Kristin Meira, , 503-234-8556

PNWA staff activities

PNWA staffers have been extremely busy in recent weeks. Following is a snapshot of our latest activities. If you have any questions or would like a more thorough briefing regarding any of these activities, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


  • Hosted a meeting with Commanding General and Chief of Engineers, Gen. Strock, and incoming Portland District Commander Col. O’Donovan, to brief them on status of the Biological Opinion lawsuit, the Snake River dredging case, PNWA funding priorities, performance measures and PNWA WRDA objectives.
  • Discussed current salmon litigation with three of the four regional federal executives: Bob Lohn, NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator, Steve Wright, BPA Administrator, and Gen. Grisoli, USACE Northwestern Division Commander.
  • Discussed USACE Seattle District issues with District Commander Col. Lewis, including permitting, Sec. 214 extension and the Seattle seawall.
  • Discussed Snake River dredging with USACE Walla Walla District Commander LTC Glaeser and District staff.
  • Organized and led a meeting with the Oregon Governor’s Natural Resources Policy Director Mike Carrier to discuss Oregon’s position regarding navigation and power related to the Biological Opinion lawsuit.
  • In addition to our routine contacts with the Northwest delegation on appropriations, WRDA and other issues, we recently met with staff from the following Northwest congressional offices:
    • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
    • Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
    • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
    • Rep. Brian Baird (D, WA-3)
    • Rep. Peter DeFazio (D, OR-4)
    • Rep. David Wu (D, OR-1)
  • Participated in communications and PR discussions with river users.
  • Attended a brunch and conducted a briefing for the incoming US Guard Captain of the Port at MSO Portland, Capt. Gerrity.
  • Reported on the status of PNWA’s federal agenda and presented the final CEDER MTS Study report to the Oregon Ports meeting in Newport.
  • Participated in Columbia River Channel Coalition meeting with Rep. Mike Simpson (R, ID-2)
  • Conducted PNWA member site visits with the following ports:
    • Port of Siuslaw
    • Port of Umpqua
    • Oregon Int’l Port of Coos Bay
    • Port of Bandon
    • Port of Port Orford
    • Port of Gold Beach
    • Port of Brookings Harbor
  • Continued to coordinate Snake River dredging and salmon Biological Opinion activities for the Inland Ports and Navigation Group (IPNG).



9115 SW Oleson Road, Suite 101
Portland, Oregon 97223
Phone: 503-234-8550
Fax: 503-234-8555


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