Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Science and Values on the High Desert: Dams and Irrigation on the Deschutes River, Oregon

Zander E. Albertson, Western Oregon University


More than a century of irrigation water withdrawals, reclamation, and the construction of the Pelton-Round Butte hydroelectric complex have altered the Deschutes River in central Oregon. An examination of these human impacts in the Deschutes Basin finds the geomorphic and hydrologic impacts downstream of the hydroelectric complex to be less substantial than typically expected, while irrigation water withdrawals in the upper basin remain a serious issue. Mitigation and restoration efforts have achieved success in the larger context of the status quo of water rights and water use in the American West, though much work remains before anadromous fish reestablish a presence in the Deschutes Basin.