The concerns for a potential loss in grain transportation, encouraged the investment in several shuttle-train loading facilities in Eastern Washington. As a result, much grain has already moved from the LSR reservoirs and locks. Meanwhile, railroad tracks that have been abandoned are ready for upgrades once investments are provided. The timing and extent of those investments is as yet to be determined. The CRSO "detailed analysis" is expected to be complete by the end of 2019.
In the time since this question was first posed and considered in the 2002 FR/EIS, installation of wind energy in the region has replaced (twice or thrice over) the electricity production from the LSR dams. Solar installations in California has greatly diminished the demand from the Northwest that California had traditionally relied upon. The market and market dynamics of this "surplus sales" energy has changed substantially since the 2002 FR/EIS. The ability to provide California as the sun begins to set, could be a lucrative market for the NW surplus and BPA Administrator has stated that he would like to capture this "neck of the duck curve". This highlights the benefits of large storage reservoirs, while the value of the smaller run-of-river LSR dams plays a much smaller role.
Being that Ice Harbor will be the last reservoir to be breached, there will be sufficient time to install a gravity-fed pipeline along the current shoreline before Ice Harbor is breached. DamSense proposal for extending pumping down 80 feet to river level is another option under CRSO consideration. It too could be in place before Ice Harbor is breached.
Irrigation System Modification Plan -- FR/EIS Appendix D Annex O (February 2002)
The area irrigated by the 12 pumping stations totals approximately 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of land. Approximately 11 percent of the irrigated acreage is used for fruit trees, 6 percent for grape vineyards, 23 percent for hybrid poplar and cottonwood harvested for pulp for cardboard manufacture, and 46 percent for annual row crops. Approximately 14 percent of the acreage is undefined. A total of 40 percent of the acreage is used for mature tree-like plants that are not capable of surviving a season without irrigation.
The primary assumption on which this irrigation system modification is based is that the current water demand must be met by a replacement system and be operational prior to the initiation of the drawdown of the Ice Harbor Reservoir. The system must function through a full range of river stages without interruption. The design, operation, or scheduled maintenance must address the presence of large quantities of suspended sediment in the water for extended periods of time for several irrigation seasons.
Many people are familiar with the Seventh Generation philosophy commonly credited to the Iroquois Confederacy but practiced by many Native nations. The Seventh Generation philosophy mandated that tribal decision makers consider the effects of their actions and decisions for descendents seven generations into the future. There was a clear understanding that everything we do has consequences for something and someone else, reminding us that we are all ultimately connected to creation.