Lawsuit Update: DRA Asks Court to Find PGE Liable for Clean Water Act Violations

Photo by Rick Hafele

On Monday night, March 5, the Deschutes River Alliance filed a motion in Federal District Court, asking Judge Michael Simon to find Portland General Electric liable for its violations of the Clean Water Act at the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project. In this “Motion for Summary Judgment,” the DRA outlines well over 1,000 instances over the past several years in which PGE has failed to comply with water quality requirements for temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen at the Project.

This motion is the latest step in the DRA’s fight to enforce the Clean Water Act and restore the Deschutes River. The document is now in the public record, but we link to it here for your convenience. In it, DRA argues that the relevant water quality requirements, and PGE’s own monitoring data, make clear that PGE is regularly violating the terms of the Project’s Water Quality Certification.


The DRA brought this Clean Water Act “citizen suit” against PGE in August 2016. PGE is required to operate the Pelton Round Butte Project pursuant to a Clean Water Act certification, which identifies several water quality requirements—all agreed to as part of the Project’s licensing process—related to water discharged from the Project. These requirements are there to ensure that Project operations comply with all relevant Oregon water quality standards and, in turn, to protect aquatic life in the lower Deschutes River. However, since SWW operations began, PGE’s own monitoring reports demonstrate hundreds of days where the Project is not meeting these requirements.

In Fall 2016, PGE filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that citizen groups like the DRA do not have the authority under the Clean Water Act to bring a lawsuit like this one. In an important victory for advocates of clean water, DRA prevailed on that issue, allowing the case to move forward. Now, for the first time, the merits of the case have been presented to the Court.

Schedule Moving Forward

DRA’s motion will be followed by three months of briefing from both parties, culminating in a courtroom appearance for oral arguments on July 17. If the issues in this motion are not fully resolved after that appearance, a full trial will follow in early December.

Since this case was initially filed, we have completed nearly two years of research, analysis, and organizing—and won an important battle along the way protecting citizens’ rights to enforce the Clean Water Act. Now, we are thrilled to be moving forward to address the merits of this important case. The DRA believes that compliance with all water quality standards at the Pelton Round Butte Project is an essential first step to restoring this invaluable river, and we are eager for the fight ahead to ensure these standards are met.

As always, this fight would not be possible without your incredible support. To all the individuals, businesses, fellow NGOs, and foundations that have gotten us to this point: Thank you! Keep an eye on the DRA blog for updates on this case as they develop.

Below, watch the DRA’s newest video: A River Worth Fighting For.

Deschutes River Alliance: Cooler, cleaner H2O for the lower Deschutes River. 

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Recap and Photos from the DRA’s Second Annual Gathering and Auction

A big THANK YOU to all who came out to join us for the DRA’s Second Annual Gathering and Auction. We filled the room to capacity once again this year, and with even more new and old friends in attendance. It was truly an honor to see so many supporters all in one room, with unified passion for the Deschutes River.

It was an especially beautiful February day, with lovely warm weather and sunshine. Unfortunately the rest of Portland thought so, too, as they all headed out to Washington Park that day to enjoy the Zoo and Discovery Museum. Thank you for braving the overflow parking. We recognize the frustration that was caused and will be sure to avoid a similar situation in the future.

Nevertheless, a great time was had by all. We drank outstanding beer provided once again from Freebridge Brewing and incredible wine by Lange Estate Winery. Attendees bid on an extensive list of live auction items as well as an awesome assortment of silent auction items. And we premiered our latest documentary film A River Worth Fighting For. The full-length film is now available online, check it out below:


Again, we cannot thank you all enough for coming out and showing your support. 2018 is proving to be a critical year for the DRA, and your contributions are crucial to the success of our ongoing science and legal endeavors.  The funds we raised at the auction will go directly to support our efforts to restore cooler, cleaner water to the lower Deschutes.

Check out a few photos from the event:


Photo by Dave Moskowitz


Photo by Dave Moskowitz


Photo by Dave Moskowitz


Photo by Dave Moskowitz


Photo by Dave Moskowitz


Photo by Dave Moskowitz


Photo by Dave Moskowitz


Photo by Dave Moskowitz


Photo by Dave Moskowitz


Photo by Dave Moskowitz

Finally, a very special thanks to our sponsors and all of the people who donated auction items, time, and expertise to the event:

All Star Rafting | Gary Anderson & Anderson Custom Fly Rods | Mark Bachmann & Patti Barnes | Baldwin Saloon | Patrick Becker, Jr. | Becker Capital Management | Diane Bell | Dick & Kathy Bushnell | CF Burkheimer Fly Rods | Chehalem Vineyards | Costa Del Mar | Deschutes Angler Fly Shop | Jeff Dresser | Tom Dufala & Bentwood Tree Farm | Eastside Distilling | El Burro Loco Restaurant | Erath Vineyards | Fly Fishing Collaborative | Forrest Foxworthy | Paul Franklin | Mark Fuller & Grand Teton Fly Fishing| Alex Gonsiewski | Gorge Fly Shop | Rick Hafele & Carol Horvath | Steve Hawley | John & Amy Hazel | Imperial River Company | Sandy Japely | Chuck Katz | Mike Kuhnert | La Ceiba Condominiums | Joel LaFollette & Royal Treatment Fly Fishing | La Gula Restaurant | Lange Estate Winery & Vineyard | Steve & Laurie Light & Freebridge Brewing | Elke & Alysia Littleaf | Dale Madden | Mango Creek Lodge | Larry Marxer | Maryhill Winery | Greg McMillan | Bill Meier | Missouri River Trout Shop | Warner Munro | Nautilius Reels | Andy Nichols & Nichols Glass Art | Chris O’Donnell & Bend Fly Shop | Pendleton | Petite Provence | Pittock Mansion | Cici Polson | Reflective Jewelry | Dillon Renton | Steve Rose | Nick Rowell & Anadromous Fly Fishing | John & Kathy Schwartz | Marty Sheppard & Little Creek Outfitters | Brian Silvey | John Smeraglio & Deschutes Canyon Fly Shop | Greg Summers | Sunshine Mill Plaza & Winery | Jerry Swanson & Fished Expeditions | Tattam Family | The Fly Fishing Shop in Welches | The Riverside Restaurant | Timberline Meats | Rick Trout | Captain Temo Verboonen | Wild River Press | Willamette Valley Vineyards | Angus Wilson | Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures