pH Violations in the Lower Deschutes River: Why it’s Happening, and Why it Matters

pelton dam deschutes river

From The Deschutes River Alliance

Dear Deschutes River Alliance Community,

There has been a lot of discussion these last few years about how Selective Water Withdrawal operations at the Pelton Round Butte Project have impacted temperatures in the lower Deschutes River. This is not surprising: water temperature is something that’s easy to sense and monitor, and increased spring and summer temperatures have led to some alarming changes in the lower river.

But to understand the full extent of the ecological changes occurring in the lower Deschutes River, there is another water quality criteria that is perhaps even more important: hydrogen ion concentration, better known as pH. pH levels in the lower Deschutes have increased dramatically since SWW operations began, and discharges from the Pelton Round Butte Project have routinely violated Oregon’s pH standard.

So what is pH? Why are these violations happening, and what do these elevated pH levels mean for the ecology of the lower river? And what can be done to reverse this alarming trend? Click here to read much more about this important water quality parameter.

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