February Riverscape 

In This Newsletter
From the Riverkeeper
Bridge Paddle Video
How We Work: Clean Water Act Enforcement
River Discovery: Saturday, 2/23
Water Quality Program Update
Beers & Burg: 2/28
Paddle Oregon 2013
Save the Date: Spring for Your River, 5/16
Water & Wood Video

From the Riverkeeper 

Winter fog on the Willamette at Irish Bend in Monroe, KR

Dear River Friends - 

Already 2013 has been busy for Willamette Riverkeeper. WR has engaged in multiple Clean Water Act enforcement issues (see our "How We Work" below), continued in our advocacy and education with the Portland Harbor Superfund site, and also pushed forward on restoration project sites. 

In the months ahead Willamette Riverkeeper will be there on these issues and more. Just this week as the legislative session gets into full swing, our lobbyist Sue Marshall and I work in Salem for clean water and healthy habitat along the Willamette, as well as defending against proposals that could prove ill for the river's health. This year will bring much more as we finalize our River Camp for Middle School Kids, implement new restoration work, forge new paths in water quality monitoring, and open registration for Paddle Oregon 2013.   


Does this bag belong to you? (KR)

Critical to this work is Your support. WR's work only survives if you become a member, give monthly, engage your workplace as sponsors of our events, or simply make a financial gift. We appreciate it very much, and put your support to good use. 

Thanks again, 



Travis Williams 

Riverkeeper & Executive Director
Bridge Paddle Video


We love connecting the community to their home river! 

Click on the image below to see our video from last month's eventful River Discovery adventure. 


How We Work: Clean Water Act Enforcement
Alarming run-off in the PDX Harbor area (KR)


Willamette Riverkeeper works every day to enforce the Clean Water Act. Even in 2013, there are instances where this hallmark environmental law is poorly implemented, and not enforced. What WR does on this front is critical, resulting in cleaner water and a more informed base of permit holders. What we do is direct, and creates results. 


How do we work? If a facility has a large area where runoff is generated on the property and enters the stormwater system, they must have a stormwater permit that includes certain actions to prevent pollutants from leaving the property. In other cases large facilities have discharge permits for treated waste water that have very specific requirements. 


WR and our partner attorney, Doug Quirke, of the Oregon Clean Water Action Project identify violations of the Clean Water Act by:

Scrap metal & outfall pipe (TW)


1a) WR members, staff, and the general public spot what appear to be water quality issues. This may be as simple as oily water running off of a facility with nothing to capture the flow, to an anonymous call about a massive pile of material that contains runoff heading toward a creek. We follow up to determine what the situation may be, and if a permit is being violated. Our staff engage with volunteers, State and Federal Agencies and others to determine the specifics of a situation. 


1b) The other way of spotting issues involves reviewing permit files at the Oregon DEQ to identify where problem permits may exist. The State of Oregon has a self-reporting system for permit violations (each permit has monitoring requirements, with the results provided to the DEQ). Based on the monitoring results and followup by the DEQ with the permit holder, we can learn a lot about how a given permit is being implemented. In many cases the monitoring results show what problems exist, and in other cases there are no monitoring results in the file. 



Containment boom in PDX Harbor (KR)

2) When either of the two above scenarios provides evidence of a water quality violation, or an issue to be researched, we look further into the issue to ensure that we have all of the available facts. If it appears that a permit has been in violation for some time, or has had numerous issues with little action on the part of the permit holder, our Legal Committee reviews the violations and determines whether to send a 60-day notice under the Federal Clean Water Act. As you may know, the Clean Water Act is an amazing law that allows any person, or an organization like Willamette Riverkeeper, to file a lawsuit against a suspected polluter. Once the 60-day notice is filed, WR typically receives a quick response from the permit holder, seeking to remedy the situation. 



Containimated run-off heading to our river (KR)

3) In most cases within the first 60-days the permit holder gets in touch with Willamette Riverkeeper and seeks to provide information about what they are doing, and what they plan to do. In many cases the Riverkeeper and Doug Quirke meet with the permit holder and their attorney to determine a path forward. In some cases the solutions are easy, and in other cases the plans to correct the problem are more complicated. 


4) We typically settle cases within the first 60-days or slightly after, and a full lawsuit is not needed. The settlements typically provide a plan to deal with the Water Quality violations, cover legal costs, and instead of a penalty that is paid to the government, we are able to fund Supplemental Environmental Projects that aid water quality, habitat, and education related to a local community. 


Riverside graffiti with a message (TW) 

5) When we cannot resolve an issue or the permit holder does not respond well, WR will file suite against them under the Clean Water Act. In most every case, they end up fixing the problem, paying our legal fees, and providing a Supplemental Environmental Project. 


This work that we and others do is not unique, but it is down in the trenches enforcement of a critical law that has done much to make the Willamette cleaner. It is also essential, given the many crazy things we see along the river, and in our local communities.


This is a very tangible way that WR keeps the Willamette and its tributaries more healthy for wildlife and people. Your membership and support help us continue this important work! 


River Discovery: Saturday, 2/23
Touring Smith & Bybee with WR (KR)


What: "Early Bird Special" paddle trip at Smith & Bybee Lakes 


When: Saturday, February 23rd; arrive @ 7:30am, paddle from 8am - 11am    


Details: This is a wondeful time of year to explore Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area. Our "early-bird" schedule is ideal for birding and for avoiding what can be strong winds that can sweep across these usually calm lakes. We will meet at the paddle launch at 7:30am, get on the water by 8am, and off the water by 11am. Jeff Locke with the "Friends of Smith & Bybee Lakes" will also join us and share his knowledge.


Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area lies adjacent to the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, in north Portland. At nearly 2,000 acres this area is one of the nation's largest protected urban wetlands, and is known to host over 100 bird species. Tens of thousands of waterfowl are known to winter in the wildlife area. Since a water control structure was installed in late 2003, re-creating the flood-and-recede cycles of the wetland, the area is returning to the extensive network of sloughs, wetlands and forests that formerly existed at the confluence.  


Be prepared: Dress appropriately for cold, wet, and possibly windy weather! Pack a spare set of dry clothes and extra warm layers. We suggest wearing waterproof pants over fleece or long underwear. There are very few places to get out of your boat and stretch your legs, so be prepared to stay in your boat for the duration of the paddle. Be smart about your feet: thick wool or fleece socks and warm rubber/waterproof boots are a good idea, so are GLOVES or poggies. Also bring water, snacks, lunch, a hot drink, binoculars and your camera.


To register: contact kate@willametteriverkeeper.org or call Kate at 503-223-6418. Riverkeeper canoes are available upon request (please register with a paddling partner). 


Directions: Located on Marine Drive between the Expo Center and Kelley Point Park. Take I-5 to exit 307. Go west on North Marine Drive for 2.2 miles. Turn left at the large brown and white sign. Map your trip here.


Water Quality Program Update


Temperature data logger

It has been an extremely busy last several months here in our little corner of the water quality world while we have revisited how we can best serve the health of our beautiful Willamette River. This time has helped us assess the impacts of WR's monitoring program, its current realities, and our vision for the river's future. 


We have been monitoring for the same criteria for 10 years and have substantial baseline data to show for it. As we dig deeper, meet with key partners, and look back at what we have done, it has become apparent that it is time to take a slightly different track in the way that we monitor the Willamette River and its tributaries: starting with the questions that our constituents have consistently been asking about their river, and ending with WRK's ability to address water quality issues as they come up in 'real time'.  


Julia DeGagne deploys a temperature logger in a Willamette tributary.

This evaluation period has given us the opportunity to map an intelligent plan for the future of tracking and advocating for Water Quality. We have made the decision to streamline to a new sampling protocol focusing on temperature, turbidity and E.coli sampling. We will also engage in special projects related to toxics, and likely others linked to restoration projects. In the meantime, past baseline data will be analyzed, reviewed and reported on, and future monitoring plans and locations will be solidified.  


If you know of an area on the Willamette or on its tributaries that may be at risk, is not already being sampled; please let Suzi Cloutier know at suzi@willametteriverkeeper.org. Be ready to state your case!


We are grateful for all that you do to help to improve the Willamette River's health and for this amazing place we call home!


Beers & Burg: 2/28


"How we treat our rivers tells us something about who we are" -Amos Burg 


If you are a fan of rivers, and the name "Amos Burg" doesn't ring a bell, then you cannot afford to miss out on this great opportunity to learn about Portland's own paddling legend & river running pioneer! 


Willamette Riverkeeper friend and local author, Vince Welch, will enlighten us while presenting his new book "The Last Voyager: Amos Burg & the Rivers of the West." Vince will share stories, rare film footage and images of this remarkable trail blazer.


And yes, as the name suggests there will be beer, so get there early if you intend to be thirsty.  


What: Burg & Beers- hosted by Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe, presented by Vince Welch

When: Thursday, 2/28 doors open @ 6:30 pm, inspiration begins @ 7pm

Where: Portland Boathouse, Mt. Adams Room, 1515 SE Water Ave & SE Clay, enter the building through Alder Creek's shop.


About: For nearly five decades Amos Burg traveled in search of adventure and natural beauty. During the 1920s and '30s he completed lengthy voyages on all the major western rivers - Columbia, Pig, Yukon, Canada's Mackenzie, the Green and Colorado - source to mouth, often traveling alone. He also managed to make a 4-month, 3,800-mile run on the Yellowstone-Missouri-Mississippi as well as the Middle Fork and Main Salmon, and numerous other small rivers. He broke new ground by being the first individual to take his rubber raft Charlie through Grand Canyon and down the Middle Fork and Main Salmon.


The Last Voyageur chronicles Burg's epic river voyages as well as his journeys along the Inside Passage and through the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. We follow not only the arc of his career as an outdoor writer, photographer, filmmaker, and lecturer for National Geographic magazine, but also his expanding sense of the natural environment as a place for spiritual and emotional rejuvenation and as a living repository of American western history.


Paddle Oregon 2013


Make sure you're free 
Monday, August 12th - Friday, August 16th 2013 for Paddle Oregon 2013!

Stand by for photos, trip details, and registration available in March.




Save the Date: Spring for Your River, 5/16


Spring... for our salmon! (wikicommons)

Willamette Riverkeeper invites you to join us at our first annual "Spring for Your River" benefit event on Thursday, May 16th, 2013 at the RiverPlace Hotel in Portland. Enjoy a unique evening of great food and music, environmentally-minded speakers, and an outstanding auction and raffle items.  


We have a lot to celebrate! WR has been the catalyst behind recent and pivotal developments that will change the future of this river: from the designation of the Willamette River as a National Water Trail, to our prominent role and success as a watchdog for the Clean Water Act as well as the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup. Our future is enthusiastically devoted to ensuring a cleaner river today, and for future generations of Oregonians.


Please save the date! Your participation will directly support our work to protect and  restore our home river, and to engage communities in its stewardship.  


Water & Wood

Enjoy this short film of restoration-in-action on the Willamette, by our talented friend Jeremy Monroe of Freshwaters Illustrated. We look forward to his "Willamette Futures" feature film later this year.

Water Life: Episode 2 - Water & Wood
Water Life: Episode 2 - Water & Wood

Travis Williams- Riverkeeper & Executive Director   
Kate Ross- Outreach & Education Coordinator
Amy Baur- Development Coordinator
Marci Krass- Restoration Coordinator 
Suzi Cloutier- Water Quality Monitoring Program Coordinator
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