Dam Breaching Will Be an Option
by Wendy Culver
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon did not order the breaching of any Columbia River dams when he said the U.S. government's salmon and steelhead recovery plan for the Columbia River system is flawed.
He did not order an investigation into breaching dams on the massive system, but he did say the new environmental impact study he ordered could consider it.
And that's what will happen, said U.S. Army Corps Lt. Col. Damon Delarosa, who took command in July. Delarosa gave a brief update on the hydropower system on Tuesday at the Eastern Washington Ag Expo, which continues Wednesday with a program focused on precision agriculture.
The event is at the TRAC Center in Pasco and open to the public. Admission is $6, or $5 with a food bank donation.
Delarosa acknowledged the call by environmentalists to breach dams to support rehabilitation of 13 species of salmon and steelhead on the system was heard loud and clear at a series of "scoping" meetings.
Scoping sessions guide the Army Corps and its peers, the Bonneville Power Administration and the federal Bureau of Reclamation, as they undertake a full review. More than 300 people attended a session in Pasco in November, most to object to mounting calls to breach the four lower Snake River dams.
Simon set a five-year deadline to complete the study.
Delarosa said the report that emerges in five years will certainly address at least two options. One is the "no action" option, under which the system would continue operating as it currently does. The second would consider breaching any combination of the 14 dams under review, not just the lower Snake structures.
Breaching all 14 is highly improbable, he added during the brief, sparsely attended session.
"Portland might get a little wet."
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