Dam Removal Fish Kill? or Good for Steelhead?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Jason Decker, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. Jason Decker

    Jason Decker Active Member

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    What do you think about this????:confused:

    Condit Dam removal could hurt fish downstream, state says
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002581530_damremoval25m.html
    By The Associated Press


    VANCOUVER, Wash. — Fish advocates see the plan to demolish Condit Dam on the White Salmon River as good news for salmon everywhere, but the state Ecology Department says the project could hurt fish downstream and might violate the federal Endangered Species Act.

    Demolition of the 125-foot-high hydroelectric dam, owned by Portland-based PacifiCorp, is proposed for October 2008. The project would open 33 miles of steelhead habitat and 14 miles of salmon habitat in the area of the river blocked by the dam since 1913.

    The river forms a portion of the boundary between Klickitat and Skamania counties along the Columbia Gorge.

    After years of negotiations and talks with regulators and environmental groups, PacifiCorp has begun filing permit applications to remove the dam that generates 14.7 megawatts, enough power for about 7,800 homes.

    PacifiCorp proposes to tunnel and blast a 12- by 18-foot hole near the dam's base, drain Northwestern Lake and release more than 2 million yards of sediment that has built up behind the dam.

    The sediment plume could kill fish and other aquatic species below Condit Dam and displace fish in the Columbia River downstream to Bonneville Dam, according to Ecology's draft environmental-impact statement.

    Officials also fear the sediment could wipe out a population of endangered chum salmon for as long as four or five generations.

    PacifiCorp has proposed lessening the overall impact by capturing returning fall chinook salmon before the dam is breached and transporting them to a hatchery for harvest of their eggs and milt to preserve the 2008 run.

    But the statement said "it is probably not feasible to trap [chum] for hatchery rearing," and that species' spawning gravels likely would remain buried under silt the following year.

    Few chum spawn above Bonneville Dam because the fish have difficulty navigating its fish ladders, said Carl Dugger, a biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. He said scientists did find a few chum spawning in the White Salmon River a few years ago, but added those fish were probably just strays.

    The impact statement questions whether the fish population would be able to recover from the additional impacts of the sediment release. Environmentalists are optimistic.

    "There's no question that removing a big dam is going to impact fish and water quality, but in the long term, the benefits are going to radically outweigh the short-term costs," said Brent Foster of Columbia Riverkeeper, one of a dozen environmental groups to formally endorse the project.

    Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company
     
  2. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    33 miles is a lot of habitat, as long or longer than many coastal steelhead rivers. The long term benefits far outweigh the short term impacts.
     
  3. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    what chris said!
     
  4. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    double oops
     
  5. hikepat

    hikepat Patrick

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    The rivers were able to wash all the sediment out from Mt St Helens and the rivers recovered even quicker thay they thought possible. I see no reason that the rivers can not clean them selves out if you remove the dams. The long term benifit will far out weight the short term pains. The main thing is they should make sure the main release of silt is timed right to minimize the damage to smolts and returning salmon.
     
  6. troutpocket

    troutpocket Active Member

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    Salmonids are programmed to colonize (check out what Chinook did in NZ). Even if there is a short term problem with silt, once the habitat recovers, the fish will move back in.

    Rod
     
  7. Big K1

    Big K1 Large Member

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    Real good!:thumb:
     
  8. JE

    JE Active Member

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    The argument against the removal in that article is a common one, I think it often (depending on the situation) ranks right up there with saving a dam for its national historical significance.
    -JE
     
  9. Jake Smulkowski

    Jake Smulkowski Throwing hoppers into baetis falls

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    I wonder if there has been any consideration of a slurry pipeline like the ones that were proposed for the Elwha.
     
  10. MDL

    MDL We work to become, not to acquire.

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    Many dams have been breached on the East Coast with great results. I am hopeful that this will set precedence for future removals that will open habitat that has been blocked for so long. I had read that they were thinking of some alternative energy source to replace the lost production but am not sure in this case.
    Mike
     
  11. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

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    I am totally for this. As already said, the rivers in the east have done amazinly well when the dams were taken out. I will defenantly be there cheering when the dam comes down!
     
  12. Sloan Craven

    Sloan Craven Active Member

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    Yeah, its a common argument heard in my parts in eastern Washington. But you don't hear it when they want to dredge. But I agree that long term benefits outweigh any short term costs.
     
  13. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    One difference with east coast dams such as the Edwards dam on the Kennebec in Maine is that these are low-head dams and thus don't pile up sediment like many canyon dams in the west.
    -Tom
     
  14. Northlake27

    Northlake27 Member

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    If the politicians are involved it probably won't happen, they seldom think long term, only as far as the next election. There might be one voter fishing for those nasty old chums downstream. Heaven help us if there is a commercial fishery.
     
  15. FT

    FT Active Member

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    Even the low-head dams in the east get significant sediment build up behind them in the 130 or more years they have been blocking the river. Remember sediment precipitates out of the river when the water flow slows significantly and even low-head dams of 15' height do this.
     
  16. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    FT- while this may be true with some low-head dams, it is not it the case of the few I am familiar with. Before the removal of the Edwards on the Kennebec for instance, they used side-scan sonar to record the bottom contour before and after removal, and found that the bottom changed very little, idicating that relatively low amounts of sediment had been deposited (during high water events, much of it probably got resuspended and flushed over the dam). Now I guess one of the key words is relatively. While compared to a canyon dam, there was a tiny fraction of sediment contained by the edwards, there was still hundreds of tons (don't know the exact amount).
    -Tom
     
  17. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    I think DOE is pandering to the homeowners on the Condit reservoir (Northwestern Lake) that oppose dam removal. The sediment issue is a red herring. As others indicate, the long term benefits far out weigh the short term adverse effects.

    As for Edwards Dam on the Kennebec in Maine, there was plenty of sediment trapped behind it, but not as much as there might have been because there is another dam immediately upstream of it that trapped, and presumably continues to trap, sediment. I was there a few years ago and spoke with a DOE staffer who had worked on the removal project. Habitat and subsequent fish recovery was just short of immediate. Now they need only to have at the next dam, and the one after that, as there are many on that river system.

    Sincerely,

    Salmo g.
     
  18. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    Release the silt (kill the dam) in the spring when there is naturally high runoff and silty waters. The reason spawning beds are clean is because the water can move silt downstream what a lame argument. The copper river one of the largest salmon producers in the world has one of the biggest siltloads in the world too. Silt being realesed is a lame aurgument blow up the damn dam!
     
  19. Steelie Mike

    Steelie Mike Active Member

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    In 2007 PG&E are going to decomission Marmot and Little Sandy Dams on the Sandy River near Portland. They two are worried about the vast amount of sediment that is going to flush the thirty miles of river below the dam. They are planning on using this model for study in preparation of other dam removals. I am sure that this study will be looked at closely in the planning of the Dam removal on the White Salmon scheduled for 2008. It needs to be done. Who knows, the river may turn into another Klickitat.
     

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