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It's all water over the dam -- but how and when it falls has huge impact on salmon
Date:2/25/2014

One takeaway message from our study is that the constraints agreed upon 10 and 26 years ago are still working to protect salmon in the Hanford Reach," said Harnish.

The majority of the increase in productivity was due to constraints enacted as part of the VBSA to prevent the dewatering of salmon nests known as redds. The team saw additional benefit from changes designed to limit stranding and entrapment of young fish, which allowed more of them to reach the pre-smolt stage, when they are big enough to migrate downstream.

"This program is an excellent example of how commitment to sound science and adaptive management can help identify the appropriate balance between resource use and protections," said Russell Langshaw, a co-author of the paper and a fisheries scientist at Grant County Public Utility District, which runs the Priest Rapids Dam and which funded the study. "Operations at Priest Rapids Dam are altered dramatically to meet constraints of the HRFCPPA. We're able to provide these protections and meet load demand because of the strong commitment by all operators on the mid-Columbia to act as a coordinated system.

"In a time when abundance and productivity are declining for many salmon stocks, it's exciting and rewarding to contribute to increases for such an important one," added Langshaw.

The investigators say the results also show how the existence of dams can actually improve salmon survival. For instance, prior to the development of the hydroelectric system, water flow in the Columbia could drop very low in winter. These low flows, when combined with temperatures below freezing, likely resulted in mortality of eggs and young salmon still in the gravel. Current dam operations maintain minimum water flows that are more than twice as high as historic levels during winter, which keeps young fish in water more consistently than what might occur naturally.

"Our study shows that dams can be used to produce electrici
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom.rickey@pnnl.gov
585-709-9672
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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It's all water over the dam -- but how and when it falls has huge impact on salmon
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