Agencies Update Columbia River EIS Process;
by K.C. Mehaffey
An environmental impact statement being developed by federal agencies on Columbia River System Operations will evaluate breaching the lower Snake River dams, according to a recent newsletter from agencies working to develop a draft EIS on the 14 hydroelectric projects on the Columbia and Snake rivers.
The EIS will also look at impacts of different operations on fish and wildlife as well as the impacts of climate change, the newsletter said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, BuRec and BPA began developing the EIS in 2016, and expect to issue a final decision in September 2021.
The study will include a range of alternatives for long-term operations of the projects, and evaluate environmental and economic impacts on flood risk management, irrigation, power generation, navigation, fish and wildlife, cultural resources, water quality and recreation.
The newsletter provides a link to its public scoping report, completed in October, which summarizes more than 400,000 comments received during the scoping period. The agencies are using those comments to develop alternatives for inclusion in a draft EIS, expected to be released by March 2020.
So far, the agencies have developed eight preliminary focus alternatives, which were developed to focus on specific objectives--like improving juvenile salmon survival. This year, they expect to release two quarterly newsletters--including the one released on March 12--and host two public update sessions, one this spring or summer, and another next winter.
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