News: Increased spill over dams will help Columbia River spring Chinook
Terry Otto The Columbian
Touted as a big win for fish, a plan to increase springtime spill at eight federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers was approved last week by a federal judge.
In a prepared statement, Rhett Lawrence, conservation director for the Sierra Club in Oregon, said “Increased spill levels in 2018 will provide a much-needed boost for our struggling salmon and steelhead populations.”
Liz Hamilton, the Executive Director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association (NSIA) said the decision is a “huge win” for fish and fishermen.
Spill is a term for allowing water to flow over a dam instead of passing that water through turbines that generate electrical power. Out-migrating juvenile salmon and steelhead smolts that pass through these turbines are often killed, either directly or by delayed mortality. Spill allows more smolts to escape the turbines and results in a greater return of adult fish.
Water not sent through the turbines is not producing electricity, or money.
The plan was jointly submitted by both the plaintiffs and the defendants in a long running legal dispute over the use of spill at the dams.
It was developed in response to the Court’s April 2017 Order requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide more voluntary spill.