With recent approval from the EPA to increase total dissolved gas limits in parts of the Snake and Columbia rivers through spring, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ready to implement a new spill regime at eight hydroelectric projects this spring and summer.
Water supply in the Columbia Basin this summer will depend on where you are, according to an April 2 forecast from NOAA's Northwest River Forecast Center.
Opinions about whether the four lower Snake River dams should be removed have dominated oral comments on a draft environmental impact statement for the Columbia River System Operations during at least two of five teleconferences held since the document was released on Feb. 28.
The State of Washington has closed recreational fishing for at least two weeks, and Oregon closed salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia River.
Total cost of the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program grew from $481 million in fiscal year 2018 to $788 million in FY 2019, thanks largely to power BPA had to purchase and power it could not sell due to fish operations at hydroelectric projects.
Several partners will soon embark on the largest restoration project attempted in the Columbia River estuary, which will become one of the few estuary habitats for migrating fish between the Columbia Gorge and the lower river.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the court's December 2019 decision (CU No. 1934) requiring the agency to develop preliminary water temperature plans for the lower Snake and Columbia rivers.
Reactions to the Feb. 28 release of the draft EIS on Columbia River System Operations make one thing clear: the debate over breaching the four lower Snake River dams is not over.
Breaching the four lower Snake River dams and increasing spill at the four lower Columbia River dams would provide the largest benefits for several ESA-listed salmon, but would also result in unacceptably high adverse impacts to hydropower, navigation, irrigation and existing recreation.
Leaders of several utilities and conservation groups have come together to find common goals surrounding issues around the lower Snake River, and are asking governors of the four Northwest states to start developing a long-term solution to a controversy marked by decades of court battling.
A flurry of letters and statements about the Columbia River System Operations draft EIS preceded its actual Feb. 28 release.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown expressed her state's support for breaching the four lower Snake River dams as part of a long-term solution to salmon recovery in a letter sent Feb. 11 to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
Harkening back to its success in getting support for federal legislation to remove sea lions preying on endangered Columbia Basin fish, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission approached the Northwest Power and Conservation Council on Feb. 11 seeking a similar collaboration to addres…
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has started a public scoping process to establish new regulations to expand options for the lethal take of double-crested cormorants, including those that prey on both wild and stocked fish.
The Upper Snake River Tribes Foundation, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, individual tribes and nonprofit groups are objecting to Idaho Power's settlement offer, which would use some of the measures from its settlement agreement for a water quality certification as articles f…
Clean energy legislation and plans to retire more coal-fired power plants in the next 10 years have upended conclusions of the 2018 Lower Snake River Dam Replacement Study, according to an analysis by Energy GPS and commissioned by Northwest RiverPartners.
Tests of a new turbine at Ice Harbor Dam show the new fixed-blade design is 4 percent more efficient than the prior version and improves survival rates of juvenile salmon that migrate downstream past the turbine, officials say.
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission agreed Jan. 24 to temporarily modify its water quality standard for total dissolved gas in the lower Columbia River, paving the way toward higher spill levels at eight federal dams this spring.
Ocean temperatures were the warmest in recorded history in 2019, according to a study published in February's Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
In a unanimous vote on Jan. 23, seven members of the Orcas Power & Light Co-op board rescinded a resolution the board adopted in September opposing removal of the four lower Snake River dams while supporting "effective" actions to restore salmon runs and save endangered southern resident orcas.
After 18 months of accepting recommendations, drafting new language, and receiving and reviewing public comments, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council adopted Part II of its 2020 Fish and Wildlife Program Addendum on Jan. 14.
Over the past 30 years, salmon production at hatcheries operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been cut nearly in half—from about 275 million releases in 1989 to a low of 145 million in 2017.
Dismantling or breaching the four lower Snake River dams would add 1.2 million tons of CO2 and other harmful emissions annually to the atmosphere, and cost more than $2.3 billion over the next 30 years, according to a study commissioned by the Pacific Northwest Waterway Association (PNWA).
Despite miserly precipitation in many parts of the Columbia Basin so far this water year, hydrologists now predict the water supply at The Dalles Dam from April through September will be close to normal, if forecasts for significant winter storms through Jan. 19 are accurate.
After years of delay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has 30 days to develop and issue technical documents outlining the causes of high water temperatures in the lower Snake and Columbia rivers, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
Reactions to Washington state's newly released draft report examining the positive and negative impacts of removing the four lower Snake River dams are as varied as the views represented in the report itself.
Independent consultants hired by the State of Washington to look at the impacts of breaching four lower Snake River dams discovered both hope and despair over the potential to resolve the longstanding issue, they said in their draft report released by Gov. Jay Inslee's office Dec. 20.
For the first time anywhere, biologists hope to track juvenile salmon and steelhead as they migrate downstream over a high-velocity spillway at the Snake River's Lower Granite Dam next spring, officials say.
As of Dec. 18, precipitation this fall—as snow or rain, at both high and low elevations—has been very low throughout the Columbia Basin and in western Washington and Oregon.
A Washington State University professor who was among the first to sound an alarm about methane emissions from hydroelectric reservoirs says, in his opinion, "the jury is still out on the extent to which Columbia River reservoirs are significant greenhouse gas sources."
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council's efforts to evaluate its Fish and Wildlife Program's performance and to be more involved in its budget changes were taken up at the Council's Dec. 10 meeting, but several associated tasks remain undetermined.
The debate over lower Snake River dam removal is often framed as a tug-of-war between the perceived environmental benefits to salmon, steelhead and other aquatic life and the economic detriments to farmers, hydroelectric generation, a barging industry and the communities they support.
Just before retiring in November, Debbie Bone-Harris, senior public affairs manager for Franklin County PUD, told Clearing Up about a growing concern by public-power utilities across Washington over the prospect of removing four lower Snake River dams. She provided resolutions adopted by boa…
An organization representing irrigators who would be affected if the four lower Snake River dams are breached issued a white paper on Nov. 20 putting the cost of compensation at between $446 million and $622 million.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to apply for a pollution discharge permit for Chief Joseph Dam, track the amount of lubricants it uses there, and study and use environmentally friendlier lubricants at the dam when feasible.
Scientists who study avian predation in the Columbia Basin have long known that birds can be a significant cause of death for young salmonids—especially upper Columbia River steelhead. But even Allen Evans and Dan Roby were surprised by the numbers after tallying cumulative impacts of 14 bir…
The jury is still out on whether the Northwest is ready to come together to try to solve issues surrounding poor returns of salmon and steelhead to the Snake River, according to a white paper following up on a Boise State University conference in April.
A team of independent scientists offered a positive review of a tribal organization's analysis for reintroducing salmon and steelhead above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams, but recommended that tribes and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council proceed with caution due to continuing …
A longstanding debate over the benefits of spill ordered by two federal judges at eight dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers is likely to resurface with a new NOAA Fisheries study.
There are enough pockets of cold water on the Columbia River to provide migrating adult salmon and steelhead a temporary reprieve when the lower Columbia River gets uncomfortably warm, an Environmental Protection Agency study found. But these areas of cooler water likely will not be enough t…
Concerned parties have weighed in on a request by two environmental groups for the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court decision that struck down the routine practice of withdrawing and resubmitting state water quality certifications for projects seeking a federal license.
A cooler and wetter fall season throughout much of the Pacific Northwest has erased all drought from the region and provided the Cascade and Rocky mountains with a "good start" to a healthy winter snowpack.
A group of scientists is pushing to breach the four lower Snake River dams, based on increasing water temperatures and concerns climate change will compound the problem.
Two Pacific Northwest tribes on Oct. 14 called for removal of three hydroelectric dams on the lower Columbia River to boost salmon populations and help feed struggling orcas.
Some groups are taking a close look at new details the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released Oct. 4 about the four alternatives being developed for the Columbia River System Operations EIS, while others are questioning the process itself.
Federal funds apportioned since 2015 to the four Northwest states to help keep quagga and zebra mussels out of the Columbia Basin are now at risk of being diluted, after Congress added four more basins spanning another 11 states, without increasing the total appropriation.
After tracking contaminants flowing into the U.S. from coal mining operations in southeast British Columbia for years, the Environmental Protection Agency has released results of its most recent study showing that selenium levels in some mountain whitefish and their eggs are exceeding its re…
Three environmental groups whose lawsuit prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Marine Fisheries Service to reinitiate Endangered Species Act consultations for the Willamette Valley Project are now asking a federal judge to grant their original claims for relief in a summary …