Latest from The Spokesman-Review
RIVERS — The Washington Department of Ecology's proposal to set a minimum allowable flow of 850 cfs is causing a stir among river users.
- Comments on the proposal are due today, Nov. 7, by 5 p.m.
The Northwest Whitewater Association, Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club and at least one fly fishing outfitter, Silver Bow Fly Shop, are urging users to demand higher minimum flows.
Says Silver Bow owner/guide Sean Visintainer:
We need your help! The Department of Ecology has proposed a streamflow rule for the Spokane River that would set the summertime (June-Sept) flows at a very low 850cfs. This flow is substantially lower than the Spokane's normal flow even at it's lowest in late summer. This proposed 850cfs flow could potentially be very harmful to our wild Redband trout. Low flows mean less habitat, less oxygen, warmer temps, and added strain by concentrating the trout to smaller areas.
- The Spokesman-Review published this editorial on the issue.
Flows in the South Fork of the Boise River will jump next week as part of a project to recover fish habitat in areas impacted by heavy sedimentation after last year's Elk and Pony Complex fires. Idaho Fish & Game reports that the river's volume from Anderson Ranch Reservoir will rise by 400 cubic feet per second on Monday, and another 300 cfs Tuesday, then remain at 2,400 cfs for eight days; by Aug. 29, the flows will drop back to 1,700 cfs.
A multi-agency team developed the project to mimic spring runoff, which normally would help clear out sediment and debris after fires; flows in the South Fork of the Boise are regulated by dams that store water for irrigation and flood control, so that didn't just naturally happen. The idea is to do it now at a time when water is available; Fish & Game, the Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the University of Idaho and Trout Unlimited all are cooperating in the project. Click below for a full announcement from Fish & Game.
FISHING — Warming water temperatures in the Snake and Columbia rivers is catching the attention of fish scientists, especially those who support the removal of Snake River dams for the benefit of wild salmon and steelhead.
Following is the third memo in a series calling attention to the warming waters of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and the impacts of those high water temperatures on migrating salmon and steelhead provided by Joseph Bogaard, deputy director, Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, 206-286-4455 x103; firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer 2013 - Hot Water Alert No. 3
Columbia and Snake River temperatures over 70 degrees for third straight week
Memo to Northwest writers, reporters, editorialists, and columnists – August 7, 2013
For the week July 29 through August 4, water temperatures were 70 degrees or higher 45 times at Columbia and Snake River federal dams passable to salmon – up from 35 readings the previous week. At three dams – The Dalles and John Day on the Columbia, and Ice Harbor on the Snake – temperatures were above 70 degrees all seven days both above and below the dams. At Ice Harbor Dam, temperatures have now been above 70 degrees for 17 consecutive days; at The Dalles and John Day, for 11 consecutive days.
The Dalles Dam(first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)
70.1 F 70.2 F
70.7 F 70.7 F
70.8 F 70.9 F
Aug 1 70.6 F
Aug 2 70.1 F
Aug 3 70.2 F
Aug 4 71.1 F
John Day Dam (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)
July 29 70.9 F
July 30 70.9 F
July 31 71 F
Aug 1 70.8 F
Aug 2 70.6 F
Aug 3 70.9 F
Aug 4 71.5 F
Ice Harbor Dam (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)
July 29 71 F
July 30 70.8 F
July 31 70.8 F
Aug 1 70.6 F
Aug 2 70.4 F
Aug 3 71 F
Aug 4 70.2 F
Bonneville Dam (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)
Aug 1 70 F
Aug 4 70.3 F
The Idaho Statesman reported August 3 that hundreds of endangered sockeye and chinook salmon were trapped in July by warm water at the base of the Lower Granite Dam fish ladder on the lower Snake. Turbine adjustments and auxiliary pumps finally got the fish moving up the ladder, but the situation could be a harbinger for days and years ahead.
RIVERS — Stan Miller has retired from Spokane County’s water resources program, but he still keeps an eye on the Spokane River and the snowpack left in the mountains.
In his educated opinion, the river has a chance of reaching an all time high flow:
From May 19 - May 21, 1997 the Spokane River was flowing at 42,000 cfs.
That is about 6,000 cfs more than today.
Only flows on May 31, 1894 (49,000 cfs), Dec. 26, 1933 (47,800 cfs), and Jan. 20, 1974 (45,600 cfs) were higher than the 1997 flow. We could set a record if we get a good dump of rain up high.
If the forecast for cooler weather for the next week is correct, we will probably just see this level for a week or until most of the snowpack is gone.
Remember this level of flow is normally not seen until the end of May or early July.
The electricity supply in the Northwest will remain adequate this spring and summer despite low runoff levels in the Columbia River Basin, where hydroelectric dams provide more than half of the region’s electricity, an analysis by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council shows.
“Low flows will reduce hydropower generation below normal, but there is no danger of a serious curtailment to electricity service, according to our analysis,” Council Chairman Bruce Measure said in a press statement today. “The power available from generating plants, including hydropower dams, wind turbines, and power plants that burn fossil fuels, is more than adequate to meet the anticipated demand for electricity this year.”
The precipitation since last October is 79 percent of normal, and snowpack is 73 percent of normal, in the Columbia basin, reports the Northwest River Forecast Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A year ago, the basin’s snowpack was 91 percent of normal.
Based on snow and rainfall to date, the forecast for runoff through the end of August is much lower than normal — just 65 percent of average measured at The Dalles Dam. If that estimate proves accurate, this would be the second-lowest runoff year since 1992.