Fish Weirs Weigh Big
The states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana and four federal agencies (the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA Fisheries and BPA) have developed a preliminary agreement on regional hydro operations.
Discussions have been under way since early in the year, when a lawsuit challenged the 2004 biological opinion issued by NOAA Fisheries on Federal Columbia River Power System operations. Another suit requested hydro operation measures beyond those in the 2004 BiOp. With litigation continuing, the states and federal agencies wanted a plan to operate the hydro system that provided protection for fish and stability to operations.
"It's considered conceptual pending discussion with affected tribes regarding their unique concerns and ascertaining their interests in pursuing such an agreement with the federal agencies and Northwest states," said Lorri Bodi, BPA senior policy advisor for fish and wildlife. "Much more work remains to be done to develop a regionally based approach that can work successfully across the diverse jurisdictions involved. To this end, meetings were scheduled in July with the tribes and other interests.
Bodi said that the agreement provides stable, predictable mechanisms to help states, tribes and federal agencies improve fish passage and survival over the next Spillway weirs such as this one, installed at Snake River dams, would be key elements in a newly proposed hydro operations agreement among federal agencies and four Northwest states. 10 years. The proposal outlines a long-term agreement on hydro operations to support regional salmon recovery goals. The agreement mirrors the procedures and measures included in the Updated Proposed Action document that was part of the 2004 BiOp.
"A major element of the proposed agreement," said Bodi, "is that it would use savings garnered from the operation of more efficient spillway weirs at dams to provide additional funds for fish and wildlife projects and additional savings for ratepayers."
The agreement would not settle legal issues now under litigation. The injunction recently ordered by U.S. District Court Judge James Redden requires additional spill at federal dams this summer. The preliminary agreement is a longer-term approach.
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