Environmentalists hadn't paid much attention to Boeing's permits in the past because the aerospace firm never seemed serious about using the water. The permit allows diversion of twice the quantity consumed annually by the city of Portland. But when Boeing subleased the water to a commercial grower of potatoes and onions, three groups filed a lawsuit.
Martha Pagels of the state Water Resources Department says that the diversions are planned for a part of the river not critical for salmon recovery. But a regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation, John Keyes, says that further diversions will disrupt plans for salmon recovery required by the Endangered Species Act. Keyes says the Boeing contract "could essentially nullify Reclamation's efforts."