A Shady Deal Cools the Rogue River, and Earns National Attention as Water Quality Model

August 28, 2012

The Oregonian — August 28, 2012

It was a costly choice, either way. To improve endangered salmon habitat, Medford’s wastewater treatment plant was required by the state Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the temperature of water it released to the Rogue River.

The solution that emerged is being hailed as a national model, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture just announced a $1.5 million grant that will coordinate similar work in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

In Medford’s case, the estimate for mechanically chilling the water was $20 million. A lagoon system to hold treated water and release it when salmon weren’t running would cost about $16 million.

In 2010, an engineer working for the city approached Portland’s The Freshwater Trust to ask about using streamside habitat restoration as a substitute for concrete and steel capital projects. Planting trees, in other words, to accomplish the river cooling mandated by the DEQ’s new standards.

Read the full story here.

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