Dredging the Columbia River would allow bigger ships to sail between the Columbia River Estuary and into Portland, says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
million plan would deepen a 103-mile stretch of river by three feet
by dredging every day for two years.
to the Corps' final environmental impact statement, dredging won't
cause "significant" environmental problems, and the National Marine
Fisheries Service has given the program the go-ahead. However, many
scientists, environmentalists, tribes and politicians wonder how
the Fisheries Service could support a dredging project in the face
of the Northwest's dam debate (HCN,
"To approve this dredging proposal is
brain-dead," says Bill Arthur of the Sierra
"Every other dredging project on the West
Coast has timing windows that stop digging when salmon are
migrating, but with this project there would be no time for two
years that fish would be safe," says the Columbia River Estuary
Study Taskforce, a council of local governments spearheading the
opposition. "Endangered salmon can get sucked up in the dredge,
it's noisy, it increases water pollution, and adds more salinity to
For the Corps to start dredging, it
will need approval from the state's Department of Environmental
Quality. The DEQ will wrap up its public process on Jan.