State Rep. Mary Dye joins Congressman Dan Newhouse to voice concerns on dams

Recently, Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy joined U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and key stakeholders who oppose judicial orders to spill more water over regional dams.

The meeting came as the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal to counter the decree, issued by U.S. District judge Michael Simon in Portland last spring.  Simon mandated the release of increased amounts of water over the Columbia and Snake River dams from April to mid-June.

Dye, who spent part of the day touring the Lower Granite Dam, which spans the Snake River and connects Whitman and Garfield counties, expressed concerns that a single judge is making rulings that affect the availability of inexpensive electricity, a burden that eventually would be borne by Northwest ratepayers.

“It is imperative that all biological data be examined prior to making decisions that create such significant impacts,” said Dye.  “There are questions whether this forced spill of additional water will help the fish.  It is possible that it could do more harm than good.  We must look at all of the science available before making such far-reaching decisions.”

The spill has the potential to affect river transportation, flood control and irrigation systems, according to information from Newhouse’s staff.

Newhouse announced during the meeting news of federal legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers that would require the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to operate the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) in a manner consistent with the endangered species act. He is confident this legislation will be adopted.

Dye recognizes ongoing investments in fish passage improvements to the Snake River dams.  At the same time, she expresses frustration that many people don’t acknowledge the benefits of these structures to overall fish survival. “Even now,” she said, “we continue to see key misunderstandings of the crucial ways that these dams benefit our environment, communities and our economy.”

The spring spill over the lower Snake River dams started Tuesday.  The spring spill over the lower Columbia River dams starts April 10.


Washington State House Republican Communications