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Power Planners to Review Use of Dams

by Staff
The Columbian, January 12, 2003

A controversial proposal to change the operation of federal dams in the Columbia River basin will get a public airing Tuesday in Vancouver.

The Northwest Power Planning Council will convene its regular two-day monthly meeting Tuesday at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, 7801 N.E. Greenwood Drive. A public hearing about a set of draft amendments to its fish and wildlife program will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Larry Cassidy, a Vancouver resident, will convene his final meeting as chairman of the eight-member council.

A year ago at the Heathman, Cassidy was elected to his third one-year term as chairman after the council changed its bylaws to remove a two-year term limit. Cassidy was re-elected over the objections of Oregon's two representatives, who wanted then-vice chairman Eric Bloch to ascend to the chairmanship, where Bloch could better enact the salmon-friendly policies of outgoing Gov. John Kitzhaber.

After that meeting, Cassidy vowed this would be his last year as chairman.

Tuesday's hearing will be the ninth in a series across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana to review a set of draft recommendations the council will make to the federal agencies that operate a network of 29 dams in the Columbia basin.

The proposal calls for federal agencies to curtail the amount of water dumped out of massive upstream reservoirs in the spring to help propel juvenile salmon toward the Pacific Ocean. The recommendations also raise pointed questions about the value of spilling water away from dam turbines. The practice is intended to safely pass fish around the dams but prevents the dams from generating hydroelectricity.

"Scientific and policy uncertainty continue to plague a number of mainstem actions intended to benefit anadromous fish," the report stated, "leading to an inability to measure the extent of the benefits gained and to great differences of opinion as to the value of continuing these actions."

Power Planners to Review Use of Dams
The Columbian, January 12, 2003

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