Idaho and Oregon sign Hells Canyon Complex agreement

Monday April 22, 2019

Boise, Idaho – The States of Idaho and Oregon signed a settlement agreement last week for the Hells Canyon Complex, representing a monumental step toward Idaho Power’s reauthorization to operate three Snake River dams.

The agreement represents the culmination of decades-long negotiations between Idaho, Oregon, and Idaho Power. The parties have been working since 2005 to resolve disagreements on water quality and fish passage along the portion of the Snake River that is shared by Idaho and Oregon.

In 2016, it appeared the parties were at an impasse, but both states and the company agreed to one-last effort to resolve the outstanding issues.

“This long-awaited agreement supplies clean, affordable energy for Idahoans, improves water quality, and provides additional fish for recreational and tribal ceremonial purposes,” Governor Brad Little said.

Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Idaho Power will implement significant investments in water quality projects, resulting in cleaner, colder water flowing downstream. In addition, the company will increase production at their Rapid River Hatchery, enabling 800,000 additional chinook salmon to bolster state and tribal fishing opportunities in the future. In return, Oregon will not require fish passage as a condition of its water quality certification for the operation of the Hells Canyon Dams.

In December 2018, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) solicited comments on the draft water quality certification for the continued operation of the dams, which included a draft settlement agreement. The DEQ is finalizing the water quality certification and formal responses to public comments received. It anticipates the efforts will be completed within the next month.

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