Increased Dworshak Spill
AHSAHKA - In response to a request from regional fish managers, the Army Corps of Engineers will increase water releases at Dworshak Dam and Reservoir starting Wednesday to help ESA-listed outmigrating juvenile salmon in the lower Clearwater and lower Snake rivers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials announced.
In a news release, the Corps said water flows from Dworshak Dam will increase to 10,000 cubic feet per second starting just after midnight on Wednesday morning and will remain at 10,000 cubic feet per second until midnight on Friday evening.
The discharge will be reduced from full powerhouse (10,000 cfs) if the inflows to Lower Granite exceed 100,000 cfs (day average). Current modeling shows the releases from Dworshak boosting inflows to Lower Granite into the mid to upper-90,000 cfs range.
Evaluation of current juvenile salmon outmigration prompted the Fish Passage Advisory Committee to request an increase in water flows from Dworshak. The FPAC is a regional group composed of biologists and fish managers from NOAA-Fisheries; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Idaho, Washington and Oregon states' fish and wildlife agencies, Native American tribes and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Fish Passage Center which evaluates in-river conditions for ESA-listed fish and makes recommendations to regional water managers to adjust operations as necessary.
The Corps said recent juvenile salmon and steelhead outmigration counts at Lower Granite Dam have been much lower than anticipated. Through May 15 this season, only 1,965,823 juvenile salmon and steelhead had passed through the juvenile fish facility at the dam - during similar water forecast (snowpack & rainfall) conditions in 2005, more than 10,515,796 salmon and steelhead had passed through the JFF by May 15. The unusually low numbers of juvenile ESA-listed salmon passing Lower Granite Dam's JFF raised fish managers' concerns and prompted their request for additional flows from Dworshak.
The Corps and NOAA-Fisheries held a public meeting at the Best Western hotel in Orofino Tuesday, May to explain the need for this operation and answer questions.
The Corps said outdoor recreation opportunities shouldn't be affected by the increase in flows through the weekend, said Corps recreation officials.
Recent weather had improved the possibility of refilling the reservoir. The maximum impact of these releases will be about three feet less of refill if the actual runoff volume is less than forecasted.
With these releases to assist fish outmigration, the reservoir will likely fill to a level within 10 feet of full, according to Corps water managers.
While the lower water levels can make it more difficult to access the shoreline mini-camps, the popular destination and safe-harbor docks provide an excellent place for family and friends to meet, picnic, swim and have fun, according to recreation officials at Dworshak. Floating destination docks are located near the dam in Merrys Bay, Indian Creek, Drift Creek, Cranberry Creek and two at Elk Creek. Floating safe-harbor docks are located in Freds Bay, Dicks Creek, Cranberry Creek, Reeds Creek, Weitas Creek and Evans Creek. Reservoir maps are available at all boat ramp kiosks and the Dworshak Dam Visitor Center. All campgrounds and boat ramps are open for use.
Corps officials advise boaters and other people using waterways both in Dworshak Reservoir and downstream of the dam on the Clearwater River to be alert to changes in water elevation
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