Monitoring Water Quality

The latest information on our water quality monitoring and recent studies

Monitoring water quality

Our dedicated team of researchers and biologists monitor water quality closely and communicate the results to our regulators. We use the best science available to monitor sites year-round throughout the watershed, from Lake Billy Chinook and its tributaries down to the mouth of the Lower Deschutes. This includes:

  • Continuous temperature logging

  • Dissolved oxygen, pH and conductivity measurements

  • Monthly and annual water quality reports

Oregon DEQ and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs’ Water Control Board oversee our water quality program at the Pelton Round Butte hydropower project. To access our interim agreements and other reports on water quality, visit our Fact Sheets, Studies & Resources page.

Multi-year Water Quality Study

In February 2015, we kicked off an extensive multi-year water quality study to learn more about the Lower Deschutes River, the reservoirs and the river’s major tributaries – the Metolius, Upper Deschutes and Crooked Rivers. This study was completed and released in the summer of 2019.

While preparing an article about Lower Deschutes water quality for submission to a scientific journal, our lead water quality consultant shared his draft with the lab that analyzed periphyton samples for the multi-year study. In reviewing the draft, the lab discovered it had incorrectly calculated the prevalence of four periphyton taxa (out of over 400 total taxa).

This laboratory error affected the 2019 report’s discussion and interpretations of algae dynamics in the Lower Deschutes River. In light of this, our consultant revised the report in the winter of 2020-2021.

“We’re working hard in the Deschutes basin to track water quality. We have 20 locations that we check regularly, including monthly sampling at sites upstream of the Pelton Round Butte Project, in the reservoirs, and extending throughout the Lower Deschutes River.”
– Lori Campbell, Portland General Electric Water Quality Specialist