Free-flowing … Oreg on’s Democrat Gov. Despite these factors and hundreds of thousands of voices supporting the removal of the four lower Snake River dams, including Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown, the three federal government agencies (Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bonneville Power Administration) rejected dam removal altogether in their draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). On a broader scale, such consideration lays the analytical groundwork for potential later consideration of a determination to breach one or more of the four Lower Snake River dams. Opened 46 years ago in 1975, the dam is located 22 miles (35 km) south of Colfax and 35 miles (56 km) north of Pomeroy. Economic benefits of the dams are far below the costs (benefit to cost ratio of .15, meaning 15 cents in benefits to every tax dollar spent). It is time for the lower four Snake River dams to come down. Flows in the lower Snake River are highest in the spring (average annual peak of approximately 165,000 cubic … To make up for the declining runs, hatcheries are subsidized, and this is another large expense for BPA called “mitigation”. The proposed removal of four Lower Snake River dams has been the subject of legal battles since 1991. Large public enterprises including Bonneville and the Corps would change how they do business. Compelling evidence proves dams kill salmon. The comment period closed on April 13, 2020. Freight volumes on the lower Snake have declined 69% over the last twenty years, and container freight shipped from the Port of Lewiston in Idaho has declined 93% over the last sixteen years. Topics: Hydropower, Navigation, Irrigation, Fish Passage, Costs. They are particularly valuable in times of extreme hot and cold weather, when demand for electricity peaks. Generation is limited by both spill requirements and seasonal river flow. Major regional industries have abandoned barge shipping. Tell our Northwest congressional delegation that we need them to lead on a robust economic development package that takes down the lower four dams and rebuilds our northwest economy. In fact actual generation data shows they average 930 MW of power per year (2010-2015). The four lower Snake River dams are a major cause.2 Recovery measures for wild salmon costing billions of dollars have failed. The report is based on four sources of information: review of relevant reports and studies; interviews with stakeholders, jurisdictions and organizations that would … Advocates hope to have the dams out by 2024 . Costs for operation and repairs currently exceed power revenues and economic benefits derived from navigation and irrigation. Lower Snake River (LSR) Freight Transportation is in Long-term Decline. We can build new rail lines, new roads, and new water infrastructure. Large public enterprises including Bonneville and the Corps would change how they do business. The dams are aging, and escalating costs of necessary maintenance—paid for with tax and rate payer dollars—are stressing already-tight federal agency budgets. There are an estimated 37,000 acres of industrial farmland irrigated by the reservoir behind one dam, Ice Harbor. Its six dams on the main stem of the Columbia River provide all the electricity its contracted customers need; the electricity generated by its 25 other dams, including the four lower Snake River dams, is all surplus. To provide an up-to-date and comprehensive perspective on this issue, ECONorthwest compiled the recent literature and … The four lower Snake River dams are important to the Northwest’s power needs, provide important support for the transmission system and help keep our system low in carbon emissions. The Army Corps of Engineers built the four lower Snake dams mainly for barging transportation and for some energy production. The debate regarding the potential removal of the four Lower Snake River dams in Washington has been ongoing for over two decades, but much of the existing information is either outdated or incomplete. A growing set of cost indicators suggest the government can’t continue propping up the system. The Snake River basin and where the salmon (used to, and again, will) swim. Any waterway under 0.5 billion ton-miles is considered a waterway of. Over the next fifteen years, all twenty-four turbines for the lower Snake River dams will need to be rebuilt. The Lewiston Dam was built approximately 4-miles upstream from the confluence of the Clearwater River and lower Snake River in the 1920’s. Federal agencies that manage the dams released their Columbia River System Operations Draft Environmental Impact Statement Friday morning. Shipping statistics from Ice Harbor indicate water-born commerce peaked on the lower Snake in 1995 and has been on a long, steady decline ever since. Freight transportation has declined drastically as the combination of trucks and railways have become more efficient than trucks and barging. They are “run of the river” dams with very little storage capacity and are thus almost totally dependent on the amount of snowpack and rate of runoff. Either option would cost far less than maintaining the salmon-killing dams. Together they create approximately 140 miles of slackwater, and made Lewiston, Idaho the “farthest inland seaport” on the west coast. Update: Oregon governor who supports breaching Snake River dams invited to see them first-hand Oreg on’s Democrat Gov. Two unit train grain terminals have come on line in eastern Washington in the last 11 years, and a third is being built west of Spokane and will be fed in part by short lines that penetrate the Palouse Prairie. Because these dams can’t provide flood control and have virtually no storage capacity, they can reach that maximum for just a few days in any year (during a rapid spring snowmelt for example). There is currently an energy surplus in the Pacific Northwest. The plan guides dam management on the Columbia River System, which includes the four controversial Lower Snake River dams — Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower … The four lower Snake River dams are a major cause.2 Recovery measures for wild salmon costing billions of dollars have failed. Together, the four Lower Snake River dams have a “nameplate” (maximum) generating capacity of 3,000 megawatts. Though they have a high capacity, it is seldom realized. Below are FOC’s comments. By the 1990’s, lower Snake River Coho were extinct, and lower Snake River spring Chinook, fall Chinook, and steelhead were listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Data source: Port of Lewiston (portoflewiston.com). As the federal agencies become more desperate to recover salmon, we must hold them accountable to stop the use of this method, and start seriously considering breaching. Once they are released, they are subject to similar undesirable conditions as wild fish are, as they migrate through the system to and from the Ocean. Lower Granite Dam is actually regarded to increase flood risk to Lewiston, Idaho. Birds like double crested cormorants nest on shorelines and islands while they feed, only to be killed, chased away or have their habitat destroyed. Data source: Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers … By 2000 that volume had dropped to 4.52 million tons, and in 2014 the lower Snake waterway transported only 2.8 million tons. The plan guides dam management on the Columbia River System, which includes the four controversial Snake River dams. Over the span of fifty years, wild Chinook salmon populations virtually ceased in the basin, while wild steelhead struggled to navigate the fish ladder(s) and populations plummeted. Ice Harbor Dam is lowermost of the four lower Snake River dams and therefore offers the best indication of the entire waterway’s economic viability. The cost of maintaining the lower Snake River waterway is growing rapidly. The four lower Snake River dams are Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite. “The region can remove the four Lower Snake River Dams and replace the power they provide with a portfolio of conservation and renewable energy resources while maintaining grid and transmission reliability at levels equal to or better than the current system and with little or no issions.” Energy Strategies, Power Replacement Study (April, 2018) “The study shatters the myth that replacing the … The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses ton-miles to represent the value of a waterway for commercial navigation. Today the lower Snake River dams (LSRDs) preform various functions; providing hydropower, navigation, irrigation and fish passage. The nameplate capacity of the 4 lower Snake dams totals 3,033 Megawatts, but over the past 11 years they have only produced an average of 961 aMW (annual Megawatts), or 33% of nameplate capacity. The emphasis is on faithfully capturing what people said and, where possible, why they said it. Interview with Jim Waddell, retired civil engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers and member of Dam Sense, about removal of the four lower Snake River Dams. Congress did not authorize flood control as a purpose and the dams were not designed for it. The transportation economics part of the 2002 study was so flawed the Walla Walla District itself stated the results should not be used again without further refinement. With the support of elected officials, the Corps has the authority and the time to update the 2002 EIS now and still act this year. With several large sawmills in the region, the Port of Lewiston has not shipped any lumber for at least seven years. On the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington, it bridges Whitman and Garfield counties. The 2009 Washington State Marine Forecast projects the growth of freight transportation on the lower Snake from 2003-2030 to be 0.3 percent. The Four Lower Snake River Dams Improving Salmon Passage, February 2002 Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District; The Snake River is the principal tributary to the Columbia River, draining approximately 109,000 square miles in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon. The four lower Snake River dams can generate enough electricity to power the entire city of Seattle. We now have excellent examples of indisputably successful dam removal and river restoration projects: the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams on the Elwha River of Washington state, Condit Dam on the White Salmon of Washington state, four dams on the Penobscot River in Maine and Marmot Dam on the Sandy River in Oregon. The four dams generate less than 3% of the power produced in the Pacific Northwest. The draft EIS identifies and evaluates a no-action alternative and five alternatives, one of which includes breaching the four lower Snake River dams. Reality: The four lower Snake River dams are relatively unreliable sources of power compared to some other dams in the federal Columbia River system. Study suggests lower Snake River dams not critical for Pacific Northwest energy capacity – June 2015. Wind energy in the same region has blossomed, and now triples the nameplate capacity (maximum energy produced) of hydropower. Wild salmon and orca whales are threatened with extinction owing partly to the presence of four hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River in Washington. This controversial recovery method is at odds with the migratory bird act. Containers shipped to ports on the lower Snake River are measured in TEUs, which means Twenty Foot Equivalent Units, a standard global measure for sea freight. The Snake River basin and where the salmon (used to, and again, will) swim. Money is spent on all these strategies to get more salmon past the 8 dams in their way, ensure they can get through as quickly as possible, and that they have the highest probability of surviving, without negative effects (latent mortality). The dams do not provide flood protection or any meaningful amount of irrigation. The Snake River basin and where the salmon (used to, and again, will) swim. The cost-benefit analysis was controversial then, and still is today. Corrected Cost and Economic conclusions based on Corps data and planning processes show breaching via channel bypass has benefits ranging from 4 to 20 to 1 with Regional effects adding more than 5K jobs in E. Washington and Lewiston. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson flirted with backing the removal of the four lower Snake River dams during a conference here on salmon recovery Tuesday. We can build new rail lines, new roads, and new water infrastructure. What it means is that every 20 linear feet worth of loaded containers counts as a single TEU. These dams will be breached in the future due to the economics. Lower Granite Dam is located approximately 40-miles downstream of Lewiston, Idaho. Janet Higbee-Robinson, Bellingham Due to the lack of water storage, the dams also don't offer much in the way of irrigation. In addition to normal maintenance and operations, and sediment management planning costs, dredging recently cost more than $23 million for the upper part of the Lower Granite pool, with more implementation costs to follow. The four Snake River dams on the lower Snake in southeast Washington were completed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Freight transportation on the lower Snake is so low that the waterway falls into the Corps’ category of a river of “Negligible Use.”. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has developed and constructed fish cooling systems at Lower Granite and Little Goose dams to alleviate warming water concerns. The Snake River basin and where the salmon (used to, and again, will) swim. “From 2015 to 2017, the Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the lethal removal of Doublecrested Cormorants in the Columbia River estuary. Reality: The four lower Snake River dams are relatively unreliable sources of power compared to some other dams in the federal Columbia River system. The current use of this savings figure by ports and special interest organizations is unsubstantiated propaganda. container shipments down drastically at Port of Lewiston. Together, the four produce an average of 1,024 average MW of electricity annually, which is about 4% of BPA’s annual energy portfolio. The Army Corps of Engineers recently acknowledged an annual cost of $7.6-$12.6 million just for operations and maintenance of the waterway. This does not include the millions for annual operations and maintenance on the dams, along with other major repairs, over that same time period. A high use waterway produces 300-500 billion ton-miles each year. So, the question is will salmon and Southern … For more graphs, click on the above headline. A study commissioned by the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA) has found that if the four lower Snake River dams were removed, the closures would cost up to $2.3 billion over the next 30 years, lead to significant additional carbon emissions that contribute to climate change, and jeopardize health, safety and livelihoods in already fragile local and regional economies. Formed by the confluence of three tiny streams on the southwest flank of Two Oceans Plateau in Yellowstone National Park, western Wyoming, the Snake starts out flowing west and south into Jackson Lake. I urge readers to join the Nez Perce and advocate for the restoration of the Lower Snake River basin. Study suggests costs outweigh benefits for maintaining navigation on lower Snake River – September 2015. Indeed, it is a river system that binds their very culture. A focus of the EIS will be the lethal warmwater reservoirs created by the four lower Snake River dams. In 1995 freight transportation on the lower Snake River peaked at 9.16 million tons. The Columbia River flows about 325 miles (523 km) further west to the Pacific Ocean near Astoria, Oregon. sierraclub.org. Bonneville Power Administration bears almost all the costs of maintaining these functions, except for navigation, which is paid for by the federal government (taxes). Increased rail fuel efficiency and the growing use of unit trains in Montana, Idaho and Washington have contributed to a shift from truck-barge to truck-rail for the shipment of grain to Pacific Northwest ports. If the open market price for this power is below the tier -1 guaranteed power rate of $36MWh, money is being lost. When demand for energy is high in summer and winter, the dams only contribute small amount of power, as shown for Lower Granite Dam, it’s potential is reached at 100-200 MW. A free-flowing river could greatly improve wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Clearwater Basin, and deposit nutrients throughout the basin’s ecosystem. The plan guides dam management on the Columbia River System, which includes the four controversial Snake River dams. “The science is clear that removing the earthen portions of the four lower Snake River dams is the most certain and robust solution to Snake River salmon and steelhead recovery,” Brown wrote. Four aging dams in Washington state block passage along the lower Snake River, a major migration corridor linking pristine cold water streams in central Idaho to the mighty Columbia River and out to the Pacific Ocean. Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake River in Washington is one of four dams considered for removal or breaching in a long-running debate. 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