As of Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Bonneville Power Administration is in financial trouble and intends to cut Fish and Wildlife mitigation spending. Much of this cost is attributable to the four dams on the Lower Snake River.
BPA’s most expensive and least effective mitigation costs involve keeping the LSRDs in place. The agency and ratepayers have spent over $800 million on “system improvements” on these four dams with dismal results. NOAA fisheries acknowledge that juvenile fish survival rates have remained flat over the past 15 years. Snake River wild salmon and steelhead adult return rates are far below levels needed for recovery and sockeye and B-run steelhead are on a path to extinction.
“Fixing” of dams does not address smolt predation, longer juvenile fish travel times and fish killing temperatures caused by the reservoirs behind the dams. There is only one way to fix a reservoir: Remove it.
Bryan Mercier, manager of BPA’s Fish and Wildlife Division, recently told Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune that BPA will “look at cuts to programs that can’t demonstrate success when it comes to improving fish runs.” BPA can start by abandoning the LSRDs, as all its produced power is surplus which has not been needed to meet the load demands of its contracted customers since 2009. Surplus power is sold on the open market at below production costs.
If BPA is going to “cut programs that can’t demonstrate success,” they can start by abandoning the LSRDs. Failure to do so will move the BPA and Snake River fish closer to extinction.