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Group sues DEQ over river temperatures

Northwest Environmental Advocates says standards too high for salmon, steelhead


Portland-based Northwest Environmental Advocates filed a federal lawsuit on Sept. 27 against the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, seeking to reverse DEQ’s proposed river pollution standards related to maximum temperatures.

The suit is a response to a February court ruling in a longrunning case that found DEQ was violating the Clean Water Act in its temperature standards for Oregon waters, says Nina Bell, Northwest Environmental Advocates executive director.

DEQ’s standards, she says, “have had the effect of setting temperature goals for Oregon’s waters that are far above the temperatures all the federal agencies agree are acceptable for cold-water fish such as salmon and steelhead.”

The temperature limits were contained in DEQ’s required revision of Total Maximum Daily Load standards. The Clean Water Act requires limits on the quantify of point and nonpoint pollution sources that may enter affected rivers each day.

The lawsuit also challenges a mercury limit DEQ set for the Willamette River.