Excess releases of water from Lake Koocanusa should be halted immediately, a Northwest Power Planning Council fish and wildlife staffer says.
Mark Reller said the flow last week at Bonners Ferry, Idaho, exceeded 38,000 cubic feet per second and should be cut back to the target level of 35,000 cfs.
Excess flows are costing Lake Koocanusa 6,000 acre feet a day, Reller said. Excessive releases now will mean less water in the reservoir this summer. An acre-foot is the amount of water it takes to cover 1 acre 12 inches deep.
The increased releases are part of a program to aid white sturgeon by simulating spring runoff, thereby spurring the fish to spawn for the first time since the dam was built.
Last week, the Corps of Engineers released water from Libby Dam at a rate of 23,700 cfs. Traditionally, the corps has capped flows at the legal minimum of about 4,000 cfs to capture spring runoff.