DRA Releases 2014 Lower Deschutes River Water Quality Report

By Greg McMillan

We’ve just posted the 2014 Water Quality Report to our website.  The report details our findings from last summer’s water quality sampling we did on the lower Deschutes River.  A lot of work went into the sampling, analysis, and report writing.  But it was worth it.  Here are some highlights:

  • Although there are several significant tributaries to the lower Deschutes River, they appear to have little effect on water quality (the exception being turbidity from White River sediments). Therefore, we have determined that the primary driver of water quality in the lower river is water discharged from the Pelton-Round Butte Dam Complex.
  • There are multiple indicators of high levels of algae activity. Evidence of this starts as high up in the lower river as we could sample (which was just below the Pelton Reregulation Dam).
  • The pH of lower Deschutes River water violates Deschutes Basin standards established by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. This is in no small part due to the high levels of algae activity, which results in CO2 being taken up for photosynthesis.  CO2 combines with water to make carbonic acid, so lower levels of CO2 result in water being more alkaline.
  • Chlorophyll-a levels of periphyton algae (algae growing on the stream bottom) exceeded the level established to determine if algae is at or above nuisance levels.

This work would not have been possible if not for the generosity of our donors, and the support of the Oregon Wildlife Foundation, Flyfishers Club of Oregon, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, as well as other individuals and organizations whom we’ve listed on our website.

There were hundreds of hours of work put into this effort.  Larry Marxer deserves thanks and kudos for writing up the water quality sampling protocol that we used, which was based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality standards, managing the field equipment, and helping coordinate the field work. We especially want to thank Rick Hafele for his work in writing up the report.  Our field volunteers were outstanding.  They endured some brutal weather during our sampling periods.  Our timing last summer also meant we were dealing with river closures due to the Warm Springs Reservation fires, so there was much uncertainty to be dealt with.  They meticulously followed science-based protocols in the sampling and evaluation of those samples.  Our thanks to each of the following individuals:

Jeremiah Bawden                                  Jeff Mann

Kurt Carpenter                                        Larry Marxer

Robert Casey                                         Greg McMillan

Joe Combee                                           David Moskowitz

Rick Hafele                                             Kate Puddy

Bonnie Lamb                                          Larry Whitney

nuisance algae

Nuisance algae in the lower Deschutes River. Photo by Greg McMillan.

wq supplies

Water quality monitoring equipment in the mobile laboratory. Photo by Greg McMillan.

DRA Audit Results — by Greg McMillan and Rick Trout

Photo by David Moskowitz

Here at the DRA, our audit firm, McDonald-Jacobs, performed a review of our finances following our first full year of operation.   We did this for several reasons. First, it is important to our board, our donors, and our constituents that we operate Deschutes River Alliance according to the highest financial standards as well as observing all laws and regulations governing nonprofit organizations. Second, as a new organization our board wanted to ensure that we have done everything necessary to create a fiscally sound and responsible organization that will have the financial strength to continue performance of our mission. Third, we want our donors to know how their money is being used. We are taking the unusual step of posting the financial and organizational review on our website. You can find it there under our “reports” tab. We believe we owe not just a debt of thanks and gratitude to our donors, but we also owe it to you to responsibly use your donations. We don’t want to just ask you to trust us with your donations, we want to prove we are using those donations responsibly. And we hope you’ll continue to support us.

Photo by David Moskowitz