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Resolution could lead to hydropower development along Crooked River in Oregon

An agreement to a long-standing dispute over water allocation from Oregon's Crooked River could lead to hydropower development at the state's Prineville Reservoir.

The agreement involved a number of shareholders, including local farmers and ranchers, the city of Prineville, environmental advocacy groups and power producers.

"This bill ends 40 years of fighting and paralysis," says Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who will co-sponsor legislation concerning the waters, alongside Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). "I look forward to working with all the partners in central Oregon to get this done."

Specifically, the agreement would:

-- Provide Prineville with a source of water

-- Provide water to farmers that use the Prineville Reservoir and McKay Creek for irrigation

-- Improve fish habitats in the Crooked River and McCay Creek

-- Provide for the installation of a hydropower component at Arthur R. Bowman Dam

The proposed hydroelectric plant's generating capacity was not disclosed, although an order denying application for a preliminary Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit in 2004 shows a proposal for a 6.8-MW project.

Legislation to formalize the agreement will be announced later this week.


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