Willamette River gets a 'B-' grade on health report card - KPTV - FOX 12

Willamette River gets a 'B-' grade on health report card

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Researchers give the Willamette River a passing grade for overall river health.

The first Willamette River report card was released Wednesday and the grade was a "B-."

The report card was created by the Willamette River Initiative in partnership with the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science and technical experts from more than 20 agencies and organizations in Oregon.

The goal is to establish a baseline for the Willamette River's health to measure future progress and to explain how community actions and individual choices can impact the river.

The river was evaluated on categories including water quality, fish and wildlife and flow.

While the river received a passing grade, experts said it still scored poorly in several areas.

"Summer water temperatures are too warm for salmon and steelhead, and eating resident fish is generally unsafe due to contamination. Population growth and a warming climate will put more stress on the Willamette in the future, when the river will be even more important to Oregonians," said Pam Wiley, director of the Meyer Memorial Trust's Willamette River Initiative, in a statement.

Researchers said, however, the river is in much better shape than most of the urban rivers studied in the past.

The overall grade was determined by evaluating three distinct sections of the Willamette, each of which was given its own grade.

The upper Willamette from Eugene to Albany received a "B" grade, the middle Willamette from Albany to Newberg also got a "B," while the lower Willamette from Newberg to the Columbia River was graded a "C+."

The Willamette River is the 13th largest river in the U.S., winding through 10 counties and 100 cities, and its valley is home to most of Oregon's population.

For the full report, go to willamettereportcard.org.

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