Drought can mean restrictions for watering the lawn, crop losses for farmers and an increased risk of wildfires. But it can also hit you and your power company in the wallet.
Even with heavy May rainfall, most of the Columbia River basin, including the Willamette River basin, is predicted to be at some level of drought – abnormally dry to severe – in the coming months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Spring operations at Little Goose Dam on the lower Snake River this last weekend apparently resulted in enough spring chinook passing the dam that Idaho on Monday (June 8) rescinded a request made last week, along with NOAA Fisheries and the Nez Perce Tribe, at the interagency Technical Management Team meeting.
A proposal aimed at reducing travel time and passing more adult spring chinook salmon on the lower Snake River at Little Goose Dam was “elevated” to a higher task force for a decision this week at the interagency Technical Management Team meeting Wednesday, June 3.
On March 11 and 12, 2020, the week before COVID-19 international travel restrictions were put into place, Canadian and American negotiators reconvened in Washington, D.C. to continue discussions about a modernized Columbia River Treaty. This was the ninth round of talks since negotiations started in May 2018.
After a 20-year wait and a lawsuit that was finally decided in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a study to determine temperature limits in the Columbia and Snake rivers for the protection of salmon and steelhead was released this week by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Fisheries managers say the health of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River is healthy, but there is a paucity of detailed abundance data from the Snake River, and that each zone – lower Columbia, Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam and the Snake River –has its own issues.
Over the past five years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on a number of structural upgrades at Lower Snake and Columbia river dams, all designed to make passage at the dams safer for salmon and steelhead. Those projects are nearly finished – the last will be new fish friendly turbines at McNary Dam in 2025 followed by new turbines at John Day Dam – and the Corps now plans to concentrate on operational improvements at the dams, while ending the more expensive construction.
Flows from Libby Dam in Montana designed to encourage white sturgeon movement and spawning in the Kootenai River will likely begin May 21, depending on water supply.