Willamette Basin ESA Violations

Willamette Basin ESA Violations

Current Status:
PENDING

Case Title:
Case 3:20-cv-00413

Staff attorney(s):
Laurie Rule
Lizzy Potter
Andrew Missel

Client(s):

WaterWatch of Oregon

Northwest Environmental Defense Center

WildEarth Guardians

To Protect:

Salmon

Steelhead

States:
Oregon

Case Information:

March 12, 2020 – Advocates for the West filed suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to address our concerns over the agency’s plans to reallocate over 1.6 million acre feet of water from the Willamette River Basin to agricultural irrigation and peak-season city water demands.

The Corps continues to push its plan even though it just began a comprehensive environmental study of its dams and even though it recently began a re-consultation with the NMFS over the impact of its dams on threatened salmon and steelhead. Meanwhile, the Corps says it doesn’t need to do a detailed environmental study on the reallocation plan because it claims the plan won’t have a “significant” impact on the environment.

Our lawsuit argues that, under the ESA, the Corps must at least wait until it finishes its consultation with NMFS – so it has an updated assessment of how much water the threatened salmon and steelhead need – before deciding who should get how much of the water stored in its reservoirs.

December 19, 2019 — Advocates for the West filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps is senselessly charging ahead with a proposal to reallocate the water stored in the Willamette River Basin Flood Control Project despite the fact that the Corps is in the middle of an Endangered Species Act consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service over the effects of the Willamette Project on threatened Upper Willamette River Chinook salmon and steelhead. The Corps’ decision to move forward with reallocation in the middle of consultation violates its duty under the Endangered Species Act not to make any “irreversible or irretrievable commitment of resources” before consultation is complete.