A new agreement is expected to help more young salmon pass through the dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers. “At the same time, we are concerned about the unprecedented and scientifically unproven scale of new oil spills envisaged by the agreement,” said Litchfield, whose group represents distribution companies, ports, farms and other operations that support the dams. “I don`t think this piece is the answer, but it could be the beginning of a step toward a solution, and that`s what we all hope for,” said Jim Litchfield, executive director of Northwest RiverPartners, a group that has opposed an increase in the spill in the past. The strategy, known as the Flexible Spill Operation Agreement 2019-2021, has been accepted by federal authorities that operate the dams and sell hydroelectricity, as well as by the Oregon and Washington Fisheries and Wildlife Departments, as well as the Tribe Nose. Since the 1990s, the timing and amount of spills have been the subject of near-permanent litigation. All parties agreed to try the new strategy from April this year, monitor its success and, if necessary, make adjustments in the years to come. The agreement released Tuesday sets out new strategies to dump more water on dams each spring – and carry less water through electricity-generating turbines. He points to a respite from years of legal skirmishes in federal courts over how best to save salmon and steelheads from extinction. It is a rare and special event that the former parties to the trial can find common ground, particularly on an important issue of biological and energy policy, which has been the subject of decades of divided legal battles.
But that`s precisely what happened with respect to the water spill on the Columbia and Snake River dams to support the migration of juvenile salmon and steelheads to the sea in the spring and early summer, as the former parties to the process agreed last December to an innovative strategy to improve fish survival and reduce hydroelectric power losses over the next three years. Spilled water cannot be used for electricity generation. Todd True is an EarthJustice lawyer who has represented environmental groups in dam and salmon lawsuits. He said it would be great if the government could find a long-term solution to protect salmon and killer whales after the three-year period of the new agreement. What was decisive for the agreement was a convincing technical analysis that, as part of the strategy, would reduce the impact of fish that “hit the power packet” – going through turbines instead of being knocked over. This is called the Powerhouse Encounter Probability. Currently, with the spread of renewable energy in the West Coast wholesale electricity market, especially California`s solar electricity, daytime electricity sales are less profitable for Bonneville, but in the early morning and early evening, if less solar is available, remain profitable. Last year, the spring spill was increased to 24 hours a day to further increase the maximum dissolved gas values set by Washington and Oregon for federal dams to support the passage of Junglachs and Stahlkopf over the dams. The Flex Spill agreement requires spill rates to increase above the increased level in 2018, but for 16 hours instead of 24 hours. The strategy will require Washington to raise the maximum allowable limits for dissolved gas on to 120% in 2019, a level Oregon has already adopted.
Under the agreement, the two countries would increase their level to 125% by 2020. The spill strategy aims to increase profits for salmon and steelheads, at no additional cost for hydroelectric power generation, by increasing the spill for 16 hours per day and reducing it for eight hours. Increased spill makes more water available for fish passage, and reduced spill makes more water available for energy production