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Commentaries and editorials

Dam Breaching Makes Sense

by Rich Alldredge
Whitman County Gazette, March 3, 2022

Army Corps of Engineers began the construction of a new juvenile bypass system at Lower Granite Dam. In a recent column, Don Brunell proposed that the discussion of restoring Snake River salmon and steelhead be expanded to include the entire Snake River drainage. However, the issue of immediate importance is the survival of endangered and threatened Snake River salmonids.

The impact of the four lower Snake River dams on salmon is clear. A recent BPA-funded study concluded that recovery of salmon and steelhead is only likely if these dams are breached.

The difference between recovery and extinction of these species is the four lower Snake River dams.

But what about the energy, transportation, flood control and irrigation services provided by these dams?

These dams provide only 5% of the Northwest's electricity supply. A recent study commissioned by the NW Energy Coalition found that the power and energy services provided by these dams can be replaced by clean energy sources and other realistic actions. Barge transportation can be replaced by increased use of enhanced rail and truck transport.

These four dams provide very little flood control or water for irrigation.

The cost of replacing the services provided by the dams is an investment in improving the lives of northwest residents by providing more jobs in tourism and recreation and improving fishing for the tribes, sport fisheries, and commercial fisheries.

Furthermore, replacing the dams brings a return on the investment of more than $17 billion (part of your power bill) spent on decades of habitat recovery by providing more salmonids access to upstream habitat.

Rich Alldredge, Pullman
Dam Breaching Makes Sense
Whitman County Gazette, March 3, 2022

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