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Commentaries and editorials

Dam Controversy Never-Ending Saga

by Jim Homan
Tri-City Herald, January 22, 2020

In retrospect, the number of returning adult salmon was relatively level from 1938 through 1990.  The precipitous loss of returning chinook entering the Snake River (Figure 20) accounts for a major share of the decline that has occurred in total return to the Columbia -- Artificial Production Review, NW Power & Conservation Council It is interesting that we are still debating whether to remove the Snake River dams.

The four Columbia River dams below the Snake River were completed between 1937 (Bonneville) and 1971 (John Day). So they have been in place for more than 80 years. The Snake River dams were built between 1901 (Swan Falls and 1982 (Gem State). One would think that in that time the salmon would have vanished if they were going to. The four dams being considered for removal (Ice Harbor, Dower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite) were completed between 1961 and 1975. And salmon are still swimming in the river. It looks like the systems put in place for the salmon have been very effective.

(bluefish notes: A short fifteen years after the completion of Lower Granite Dam and Idaho's Sockeye Salmon were listed as an Endangered Species. A total of 23 Sockeye returned to Idaho in the entire decade of the 1990s. See for the numbers.)
If the dams are removed, the questions become where do we get the electricity to replace the lost energy and what effect will it have on the agriculture that depends entirely on the water the dams provide? The total electrical capacity of the four dams is 2,376 MW, which is approximately twice the power generated by Columbia Generating Station at Hanford, which provides enough electricity to power all of the Seattle area.

Jim Homan, Richland
Dam Controversy Never-Ending Saga
Tri-City Herald, January 22, 2020

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