Willamette Basin Water Reallocation

Willamette Basin Water Reallocation

Current Status:

Date Filed:
Mar 12, 2020

Case Title:
WaterWatch of Oregon Northwest Environmental Defense Center and WildEarth Guardians v. Army Corps of Engineers and R.D. James

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


WaterWatch of Oregon

Northwest Environmental Defense Center

WildEarth Guardians

To Protect:




Case Information:

July 15, 2021 — Advocates for the West received a strong ruling in our favor when the court issued a draft order outlining the actions that the Army Corps must immediately take to protect threatened salmon and steelhead in the Willamette River. Judge Hernandez made clear he “has no patience for further delay or obfuscation in this matter and expects nothing short of timely implementation of the injunctive measures and the experts’ proposal outlining the parameters for those measures.”

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.