It’s August and it has been typically hot weather lately. The next few days hold 97 and 99 degrees in the forecast making even the dog look for shade. It’s also prime summer steelhead time on the Lower Deschutes River in central Oregon. The Deschutes is an important sanctuary for the entire upper Columbia basin migration of salmon and steelhead. Many of these fish are precious and sometimes endangered wild salmon and steelhead. The cool waters of the Deschutes river are a respite from the harsh and nearly lethal conditions found in the bath water of the dammed and nearly stagnant Columbia River, where water temps soar over 70 degrees- not a good mix for cold water fish.
This chart from August 17th shows how deadly warm the Columbia river can be and why it is so important for PGE and dam operators on the Deschutes River system to draw cool waters from the base of the dam at Pelton dam on the Deschutes river utilizing the new selective water withdrawl system put in place about 5 years ago.
Here you can see the lower Deschutes at Moody rapids near the mouth of the Deschutes where it meets the Columbia River. The huge difference in temperature between the Deschutes and the warm Columbia river create a safe haven for upstream migrating fish where they can duck into the cool waters and revive before heading on up the Columbia river later in the fall when water temperatures have cooled and are not so lethal.
Visit www.deschutesriveralliance.org for more information and see how you can help support proper management of the Deschutes river flows and help protect wild salmon and steelhead of Oregon, Washingtoon and Idaho.