Groups seek court order to protect endangered salmon from fish-killing Puyallup River dam

American Rivers and American Whitewater file preliminary injunction 

June 3, 2021 
Contact: Amy Souers Kober, 503-708-1145 

American Rivers and American Whitewater have asked a federal judge for an order stopping Electron Hydro LLC from opening a water intake and diverting endangered fish out of the Puyallup River in Washington.  

The owners of the Electron Hydroelectric Project have a history of violating environmental safeguards. The century-old dam has never complied with the Endangered Species Act, and it has killed thousands of Chinook salmon, an important food source for imperiled Southern Resident orcas, as well as steelhead and bull trout. According to Puyallup Tribe fish biologists, if the intake is opened, river flows below the project will be lowered, exposing steelhead redds and killing thousands of fertilized eggs. 

“Electron Dam is one of the biggest fish killers in the region. Since the intake has been shut and 10 miles of the Puyuallup River has had natural flows, 52 steelhead redds have been identified. This is clear evidence that fish need a healthy river. If the project illegally resumes operations, we run the risk of losing these precious redds,” stated Wendy McDermott, the Puget Sound-Columbia Basin director at American Rivers. “Additionally, the intake has no screen and outmigrating juvenile Chinook salmon will be sucked into generators and killed. The project is a clear example of how hydropower can be devastating to river health and fish populations.”  

“Rivers are a public resource and for the privilege of generating hydropower operators have an obligation to meet environmental standards,” said Thomas O’Keefe, Northwest Stewardship Director of American Whitewater. “Meeting these standards is important for the fish that depend on rivers and all who enjoy the experiences rivers provide.”