Spill for Fish Withheld Because of Drought

Apr 03, 2001, 01:00 ET from Bonneville Power Administration

    PORTLAND, Ore., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Federal agencies will not initiate
 the planned release of water through spillways at dams to assist juvenile
 salmon in their spring migration to the sea, the Bonneville Power
 Administration said today.
     "This was a very painful, difficult decision, but the drought has so
 depleted water supplies that the reliability of the region's electricity
 system is in peril," said Steve Wright, acting BPA administrator.
     The hydro system will be operated without spill for at least two weeks
 under emergency provisions of the biological opinion that prescribes actions
 to save endangered stocks of salmon.
     In an operational plan to be released April 13, the federal agencies will
 describe what levels of spill may be available for spring and summer migrants
 over the April-August period. Water saved by not spilling is sufficient to
 generate 1,000 megawatts - enough to serve a city the size of Seattle.
     In an independent analysis, the four-state Northwest Power Planning
 Council has determined that the region will be short of electricity this
 spring and fall unless steps are taken immediately to both reduce demand and
 conserve water in the Columbia River.
     "The Northwest faces one of the driest years in over 70 years of record,"
 said Wright. "Current estimates are that natural stream flow at The Dalles
 will be roughly half of average. Spilling water now will worsen the shortage
 and drive electricity prices up even higher."
     Meanwhile, the steps are being taken to reduce electrical demand. For
 example, BPA is paying farmers not to irrigate, thereby avoiding use of
 electricity for pumping.
     The National Marine Fisheries Service has studied the benefits of spilling
 juvenile fish over dams in this water year. The analysis indicates that not
 spilling decreases survival by 0-15 percent, depending on the stocks in
 question and the proportion that can be transported by barge and truck. For
 Snake River stocks, which can be transported in high numbers, the additional
 mortality is only 0-2 percent.
     Federal agencies collaborating on river operations include the U.S. Army
 Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, both operators of dams; the
 National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, both
 responsible for recovery measures under the Endangered Species Act; and the
 Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for water quality.
 
 

SOURCE Bonneville Power Administration
    PORTLAND, Ore., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Federal agencies will not initiate
 the planned release of water through spillways at dams to assist juvenile
 salmon in their spring migration to the sea, the Bonneville Power
 Administration said today.
     "This was a very painful, difficult decision, but the drought has so
 depleted water supplies that the reliability of the region's electricity
 system is in peril," said Steve Wright, acting BPA administrator.
     The hydro system will be operated without spill for at least two weeks
 under emergency provisions of the biological opinion that prescribes actions
 to save endangered stocks of salmon.
     In an operational plan to be released April 13, the federal agencies will
 describe what levels of spill may be available for spring and summer migrants
 over the April-August period. Water saved by not spilling is sufficient to
 generate 1,000 megawatts - enough to serve a city the size of Seattle.
     In an independent analysis, the four-state Northwest Power Planning
 Council has determined that the region will be short of electricity this
 spring and fall unless steps are taken immediately to both reduce demand and
 conserve water in the Columbia River.
     "The Northwest faces one of the driest years in over 70 years of record,"
 said Wright. "Current estimates are that natural stream flow at The Dalles
 will be roughly half of average. Spilling water now will worsen the shortage
 and drive electricity prices up even higher."
     Meanwhile, the steps are being taken to reduce electrical demand. For
 example, BPA is paying farmers not to irrigate, thereby avoiding use of
 electricity for pumping.
     The National Marine Fisheries Service has studied the benefits of spilling
 juvenile fish over dams in this water year. The analysis indicates that not
 spilling decreases survival by 0-15 percent, depending on the stocks in
 question and the proportion that can be transported by barge and truck. For
 Snake River stocks, which can be transported in high numbers, the additional
 mortality is only 0-2 percent.
     Federal agencies collaborating on river operations include the U.S. Army
 Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, both operators of dams; the
 National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, both
 responsible for recovery measures under the Endangered Species Act; and the
 Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for water quality.
 
 SOURCE  Bonneville Power Administration