The Willamette River A look at the River http://www.willamette- riverkeeper.org/theriver/ Historically Wild river. Floods in winter 187miles on its main stem Great floods result in the river changing Historically the valley Valley open prairies Oak and conifer woodlands Native American peoples, Calapooia Euro American 150 The River Today Surrounded by agricultural land Little riverside forests Cities hug the banks Industrial facilities Source and dumping Harnessed and modified by hydropower dams on the tributaries. Pollution and habitat destruction have altered the function and very health Still opportunities to regain some semblance of the river's former health and vitality. Physical Character 13th largest river in the United States Valley receives between 40-50 inches of rain a year. Watershed of 11,500 square miles in area. Average flow of the river is some 32,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) where the river flows into the Columbia. Flood in February of 1996, the flow was estimated to be some 460,000 cfs. Damming of the Willamette 13 US Army Corps of Engineers, dams on its tributaries. 11 of which produce hydropower. Privately held dams These projects control over 27% of runoff These projects have a direct connection to the future health and natural function of the Willamette Wathershed & Tributaries Watershed & Tributaries Willamette River has multiple tributaries. – Middle Fork Coast Fork – McKenzie, Santiam, – Mary's, Luckiamute, – Yamhill, Molalla, – Tualatin, Clackamas The Impact of People 22% of the Willamette Basin agriculture 70% forest.due to the mountainous parts 8% urban. 70% of all Oregonians live in the Willamette Basin. Man made north south - Interstate 5. Cities Greatest impact on the river Major cities hug the river Providing ample opportunity for polluted runoff Habitat alteration Pollution 1 Pollution has come from industry Some from agriculture Some from cities Some from other sources as well 1960s progress made reducing industrial wastes Pollution 2 Non Point Source Pollution – Can not identify the source. Point Source Pollution – Can put your finger on the pollution. Governor Tom McCall Reduced the raw industrial pollution Environmental law. Current River River flows that are manipulated by dams, to the detriment of native species. Habitat destruction on the main stem and tributaries that has resulted in threatened species and rising temperatures. Loss of channel diversity In the early days an intensive effort to cut off natural back channels separated river habitat from the main river. 90 miles of the river now has banks that were hardened with rip rap. Instead of multiple braided channels that support local biodiversity, the river is largely confined to one main channel in many areas. Current Problems Clean Water Act 303 (d) list for violations – temperature – bacteria – mercury standards 40 miles known as the Newberg Pool – high percentages of skeletal deformities. Current Problems A six mile stretch in Portland – Federally designated Superfund – toxic pollution – heavy metals – cleanup process a decade to complete. Spring Chinook and steelhead, the Willamette's native salmonids, are listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Current Problems Lamprey eel and white sturgeon found to contain man made chemicals in their tissues. Fish consumption advisory for resident fish.
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