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Tackling the Climate Challenge

By William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. Thomas and William K. Reilly
May 26, 2017

sunWilliam D. Ruckelshaus was administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1970 to 1973 and 1983 to 1985. Lee M. Thomas was EPA administrator from 1985 to 1989, and William K. Reilly was EPA administrator from 1989 to 1993.

More than 30 years ago, the world was faced with a serious environmental threat, one that respected no boundaries. A hole in the ozone layer was linked to potential increases in skin cancer and blindness from cataracts. The ozone layer is a thin band of gas in the stratosphere that protects the Earth and humans from dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and it was slowly being destroyed by chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which are man-made gases used as aerosol propellants and in refrigeration and cooling.

Despite early skepticism, the risk of a thinning ozone layer was such that an international U.N. conference was convened in Vienna to address this problem. The participating countries and international bodies, including the United States, the European Union and other major producers and users of CFCs, afterward met in Montreal to negotiate an agreement setting out a specific program to reduce the production and use of CFCs.

The Environmental Protection Agency, with strong support from President Ronald Reagan, led the international effort that resulted in a treaty that contained an aggressive schedule of reductions known as the Montreal Protocol. It remains in effect today and has resulted in significant improvement in the ozone layer and greatly reduced the threat to human health. An element critical to the success of the effort was strong reliance on the shared science of the impact of CFCs and a willingness of the countries of the world to work together. They accepted that the risk of not acting was simply not acceptable.

Today, presented with the undeniable warming of the planet, we are faced with a global environmental threat whose potential harm to people and other living things exceeds any we have seen before. The Paris climate agreement is the international response to that threat.

In his April 22 Earth Day message, President Trump stated, “My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.”

Yet when confronted with broad-based evidence of planetary warming and the almost daily emerging evidence of the impacts of climate change, Trump’s March “skinny” budget and this week’s final 2018 budget plan say we should look the other way; he has chosen ignorance over knowledge. The need for extensive and accelerated scientific research about the nature of the problem and its possible policy solutions should be beyond question. Not to get more information is inexcusable.

Trump’s budget proposals have scrubbed every agency and department of expenditures that would provide us with vital information about the pace and impacts of climate change. Among those severely cut or eliminated altogether are programs in the departments of Energy, State, Interior and Homeland Security, and at the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, and EPA.

The EPA budget released this week cuts science and technology spending by more than $282 million , almost a 40 percent reduction. The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program is zeroed out; air and energy research are cut by 66 percent. Programs targeted at specific areas with significant climate vulnerabilities, such as the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and Puget Sound, have been eliminated.

The destruction of irreplaceable research would be staggering. It would put us and the rest of the world on a dangerous path. If our president is wrong about the reality of climate change, we will have lost vital time to take steps to avoid the worst impacts of a warming planet. If those urging collective worldwide accelerated action are wrong, we will have developed alternative sources of clean energy that will enhance our green energy choices for the foreseeable future.

We can see already, in many places here and around the world, concrete evidence of what climate change means. Sea-level rise along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States has increased, and with it have come significant increases in coastal erosion and flooding. Glacier ice melt in the Antarctic and Greenland is increasing. Arctic sea ice is at its lowest level since measurements began. The past three years have been the hottest on record; the 10 hottest years all occurred since 1998. When Glacier National Park in Montana was established in 1910, it contained 150 active glaciers; today there are 26.

With no seeming clue as to what’s going on, the president seems to have cast our lot with a small coterie of climate skeptics and their industry allies rather than trying to better understand the impact of increased greenhouse-gas emissions into the atmosphere. His policy of willful ignorance is a bet-the-house approach that is destructive of responsible government.

The consequences of the president’s being wrong are hard to imagine. All the more reason to respect science and continue the work that better defines the problem and the diminishing options for coping with it.

windDecember 5, 2016

A panel convened at the Nov. 17 NW Energy Coalition conference in Portland explored options and pitfalls associated with replacing power from the lower Snake River dams, should the dams be removed.

The panel, moderated by NWEC board member Joseph Bogaard, was charged with considering only the value of the dams' energy system and impacts to it, and not irrigation, navigation, recreation or other values.

The four dams on the lower Snake--Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite--have a collective nameplate generating capacity of 3,033 aMW and a combined average yearly output of about 1,075 aMW, said John Fazio, senior power systems analyst for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and a presenter on the Nov. 17 panel.

Joining Fazio on the panel were NWEC policy director Wendy Gerlitz and Northwest Requirements Utilities CEO Roger Gray, whose group represents 33 small BPA customers.

Gerlitz told the panel that the May 2016 federal court decision rejecting the Columbia-Snake River BiOp created a new opportunity to explore more economical and environmentally beneficial strategies for the regional energy system.

Ruling that the BiOp violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the court ordered a new EIS on hydro-system operations and alternatives likely to bring about salmon recovery.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon's opinion suggested an EIS that included evaluation of dam removal on the lower Snake might "break through the status quo." He gave the BPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation five years to complete the EIS.

In assessing the value of the lower Snake River projects, "we have to take into account not only the amount and price of energy but also the amount of sustained peaking capacity they provide and the contribution of automatic generation control or of load-following that would have to be replaced if these dams went away," Fazio said.

The lower Snake dams provide ancillary services ranging from automatic generation control to spinning reserves to load following, he said.

Depending on how you replace them, both Gray and Fazio emphasized, there are consequences to the transmission system.

Hydro from the Snake River dams helps integrate wind and other renewable resources, Gray said.

"We need to understand the value of this integration. These resources may be important to inter-regional energy exchange value as well as to the public-utility subscribers," he said.

However, Gerlitz countered that no data from BPA actually documents use of the lower Snake dams for load following, integration or the other services Fazio and Gray described.

She said it's known these dams have very limited storage capacity and produce most of their output during the spring months when wind is also plentiful.

"In that situation, are the dams integrating or competing with wind?" she asked. "If they are competing with wind, are they working to bring market prices down?

"If these dams are being used for energy exchanges or integration," she continued, "to what extent? And what is the value of these services? We don't know the answers. We haven't seen these data."

Gray offered it is possible to determine what services these plants have provided and to figure out the technical replacements.

He and other panelists said the Western EIM, demand response, energy efficiency, distributed energy and renewables are probably part of a replacement package. Gerlitz underscored that the region wouldn't be replacing the lower Snake dams with a single technology.

"The alternatives come down to costs," Gray said. The Snake River dams are inexpensive plants today.

Several audience members countered that the economic and environmental costs of keeping the dams were not trivial.

"The cost of keeping those dams going, including some scheduled giant refurbishing, will be in the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars," Steve Weiss, a NWEC consultant, said.

Dealing with the Endangered Species Act is also a significant cost, Gray said.

NWEC estimated in an August 2015 report that replacing power from the lower Snake dams with carbon-free energy sources would cost about a dollar a month per Northwest household, Gerlitz said.

The panelists agreed that whether or not the lower Snake dams are coming out, the energy world is rapidly changing.

In about five years, Fazio said, the region will lose Colstrip units 1 and 2 and one unit of the Centralia coal-fired power plant. He also mentioned flood control in Canada changing in 2024, and a regional shift
toward summer peaking.

Lynn Best, Seattle City Light director of environmental affairs and NWEC board member, said her experience in western Washington indicated hydro is less predictable than it used to be. "Loads are shifting," she said. "Winter load is going down, while summer will probably increase.

"Shouldn't we look at what we actually need and what new resources would do for us 20 years from now when the hydro regime is really different?" she asked.

Gerlitz said it is important to recognize now is the time to figure this out "because we have the energy resources now."

Fazio added that the power system is only becoming more complex.

"There will be more rooftop solar, more wind and other renewable resources," he said. "We have to look at the smart grid and other ways to use the internet to help us."

The system is more multifaceted than removing and replacing 1,000 MW, Gerlitz said. "It's not simply a matter of building a gas plant and knowing what the cost is."

She said good answers are still needed to these questions: How valuable are the energy outputs and services of the four lower Snake River dams? How valuable are they in the context of salmon recovery and climate change?

"The process that was launched by Judge Simon's order is going to try and get at the questions of impacts on the energy system and salmon, and the alternatives," Gray said.

"We don't know what the scope of the EIS will be yet, but we want to know," he said. "The intention of the NEPA process is to answer these big questions."

Gerlitz cautioned that as the region goes down this path, the region must not tolerate a "subpar or outdated analysis."

"The analysis needs to be very cutting edge, the best of the best. Everyone using energy has a vested interest in this analysis," she said.

"We have to get to the right answer," Gray concluded. "As we look at replacement power, we have to look at everything--reliability, resilience. The question queued up here is a question bigger than the
Snake River."

http://www.newsdata.com/fishletter/364/2story.html

-Laura Berg

 SOS HwR

-- REPORT FOR AUGUST 30, 2016 --

INTRODUCTION: With weekly updates, The Hot Water Report 2016 tracks water temperatures, salmon survival and climate related developments in the Columbia-Snake River Basin this summer.  The report is updated weekly - published here every Tuesday - from early July through September. Each week we will share the most recent temperature data from the Columbia-Snake Rivers, news stories on climate change and current conditions for rivers and fisheries, and share information on actions state and federal agencies and our communities can take to ensure safer, healthier rivers for salmon and steelhead. We will include first-person accounts from anglers, guides, scientists and citizens on the Columbia-Snake rivers this summer.

Will you be on the river this summer? Do you have a story or photo you would like to share?  Please send to Sam Mace.

This is a joint project of the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Columbia Riverkeeper, Idaho Rivers United and Sierra Club.

 SPRING-SUMMER 2016 WATER TEMPERATURES AT LOWER SNAKE RIVER DAMS (4/1-8/30)

LSR.HWR.8.30

The graph above reflects water temperatures recorded in the lower Snake River reservoirs. The blue-toned lines reflect the average daily mean temperatures in each of the four reservoirs collected in the last 1-8 years, beginning on April 1. The red-toned lines reflect the 2016 daily mean temperatures at each of the four lower Snake River reservoirs since April 1. As one can see, earlier this season, daily mean water temperatures were frequently considerably warmer than the average daily mean temperature collected over the last 1-8 years. There has been considerably more overlap in these temperatures since approximately the middle of July.

Notably, temperatures in the Lower Snake River appear to be beginning to slowly decline. This of course is good news for stressed and endangered salmon and steelhead that are still moving through this reach of the river - upstream as adults or downstream as juveniles. Temperatures in the Lower Granite Dam reservoir are the lowest - still hovering around 66 degrees - and safe for salmon and steelhead. Temperatures in the reservoir behind Little Goose Dam are a little higher, but still at or close to 68 degrees. Further downstream in the reservoirs of Lower Monumental and Ice Harbor Dams  - temperatures are now about 68 degrees. Ice Harbor Dam's reservoir still has the highest temperatures, but it is cooler this week than during the last 6 weeks.

 SPRING-SUMMER 2016 WATER TEMPERATURES AT LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER DAMS (4/1-8/30)

LCR.HWR.8.30

This second graph above reflects water temperatures recorded in the lower Columbia River reservoirs. The blue-toned lines reflect the average daily mean temperatures in each of the four reservoirs collected in the last 1-20 years, beginning on April 1. The red-toned lines reflect the 2016 daily mean temperature at each of the four lower Columbia River reservoirs since April 1. Like the upper graph, earlier this season, daily mean water temperatures were frequently considerably warmer than the average daily mean temperature collected over the last 1-20 years. These temperature differentials have tightened considerably since approximately the middle of July.

Notably, temperatures in all Lower Columbia River reservoirs continue to read consistently above 70 degrees F. - at or above 72 degrees Fahrenheit. These sustained, high temperatures in the lower Columbia and lower Snake rivers are harming fish returning to the Snake River and its tributaries - with lethal and sub-lethal impacts.

LSR.hi.8.30.copy

 

LCR.hi.8.30.copy

These two tables reflect the previous week's high water temperatures in each of the eight reservoirs created by the lower Snake and lower Columbia River dams. On the lower Snake River between August 24 and 30, temperatures have exceeded 68 degrees Fahrenheit twice in Little Goose, five days in Lower Monumental reservoir and all seven days in Ice Harbor reservoir. Temperatures in each of the lower Columbia River reservoirs have exceeded 68 degrees every day. In fact, there were no readings in the lower Columbia below 70 degrees this past week. This week's overall high temperature recording - 72.32 in John Day pool - was more than 1 degree cooler than last week's high in the Columbia (73.58 degrees in the reservoir behind the Dalles Dam).

Overall in the four lower Snake River reservoirs, 68 degrees has been reached or exceeded 14 times this past week (the previous week was 16) and 124 times so far this summer.

In the four lower Columbia River reservoirs, 70 degrees has been exceeded every day in all four reservoirs for a total of 28 times this past week and 199 times so far this summer. Recreational fishermen have told us that while there are decent numbers of fish in the lower river, they are stressed by the high temperatures and not biting. Catch rates in recent weeks have been very low.

Salmon and steelhead begin to suffer harmful effects when water temperatures exceed 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The longer temperatures remain above 68 degrees and the farther the temperatures rise above 68 degrees, the more severe the effects, including: increased metabolism/increased energy usage, increased susceptibility to disease, reduced fecundity or reproductive potential, and/or death.

Temperature data included in these reports come from the USGS Current Conditions for Washington State. Graphs and tables were assembled by SOS Staff.


THIS WEEK ON THE RIVER:  Scientists and river managers are paying increasing attention to how migrating salmon rely on cold water refuges, whether they be mainstream rivers, tributary rivers and streams, springs or other sources.  Columbia Basin Bulletin ran this story last week looking at the latest research.  Some of these cold water sources have been buried under reservoirs making them less accessible or inaccessible to stressed wild salmon and steelhead.  Removal of the four lower Snake River dams would deliver multiple benefits, including speeding migrating smolts toward salt water and reducing water temperatures throughout the lower Snake River corridor.  An additional benefit of a restored Snake would be making incoming springs, streams and rivers more accessible to migrating adult salmon, providing cool water stops where fish could rest and wait for lower temperatures when the region experiences heat waves.  Providing cold water “breathers” for our imperiled wild fish populations will become ever more imperative as our climate warms.

 

Read the full CBB story here.


LINKS TO 2016 HOT WATER REPORTS AND OTHER RESOURCES:

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #1 - July 6

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #2 - July 12

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #3 - July 19

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #4 - July 26

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #5 - August 2

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #6 - August 9

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #7 - August 16

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #8 - August 23

SELECT 2016 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

MEDIA: Lawsuit Aims To Lower Columbia And Snake River Temperatures For Salmon (Oregon Public Radio, August 15, 2016)

MEDIA: Hot water poses ongoing threat to Columbia River salmon, groups say (Spokesman Review, August 15, 2016)

MEDIA: Reservoir Drawdown Could Spare Fish (Lewiston Morning Tribune, July 17, 2016)

MEDIA: Steps Taken To Cool Warming Lower Snake, Reduce Thermal Blocks As Large Basin Sockeye Return Heads Upstream (Columbia Basin Bulletin, July 1, 2016)

MEDIA: Columbia Basin Salmon/Hydro Managers Gear Up For Another Hot Summer: Will Sockeye Get Slammed Again? (Columbia Basin Bulletin, June 2016)

MEDIA: Middle Fork could regain role as salmon nursery (Idaho Mountain Express, May 27, 2016)

POLICY: EPA Comments on NOAA Fisheries 2015 Adult Sockeye Salmon Passage April 2016 draft Report (May, 2016)

LAW: N.W.F et al v. N.M.F.S. - U.S. District Court Opinion rejecting the federal salmon plan for Columbia and Snake river salmon and steelhead (Note: The Court's lengthy discussion of climate change begins on page 86. May 4, 2016)

MEDIA: Last year’s heat wave doomed nearly all Okanogan sockeye salmon (Seattle Times, April 13, 2016)

REPORT: Data Request Drawing Down Lower Granite Reservoir to Better Meet Water Quality Standards for Temperature (Fish Passage Center, June 2016)

SELECT 2015 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

MEDIA: Preliminary 2015 Spring Juvenile Survival Estimates Through Snake/Columbia River Dams Dismal (Columbia Basin Bulletin, October 23, 2015)

MEDIA: Dead Salmon, climate change and Northwest dams (Seattle Times Guest Opinion, August 2, 2015)

MEDIA: Snowpack drought has salmon dying in overheated rivers (Seattle Times, July 25, 2015)

MEDIA: Biologists bring sockeye into Idaho on trucks to get them out of hot water (Idaho Statesman, July 2015)

REPORT: Restoring Wild Salmon: Power system costs and benefits of lower Snake River dam removal (NW Energy Coalition, August 2015)

SELECT PRE-2015 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

REPORT: Bright Future: How to keep the Northwest’s lights on, jobs growing, goods moving, and salmon swimming in the era of climate change (NW Energy Coalition, 2009)

FACTSHEET: Bright Future 4-page summary factsheet (2009)

REPORT: A Great Wave Rising: Solutions for Columbia and Snake River Fish in an Era of Climate Change (SOS, NW Energy Coalition, Sierra Club, 2008

 SOS HwR

-- REPORT FOR AUGUST 16, 2016 --

INTRODUCTION: With weekly updates, The Hot Water Report 2016 tracks water temperatures, salmon survival and climate related developments in the Columbia-Snake River Basin this summer.  The report is updated weekly - published here every Tuesday - from early July through September. Each week we will share the most recent temperature data from the Columbia-Snake Rivers, news stories on climate change and current conditions for rivers and fisheries, and share information on actions state and federal agencies and our communities can take to ensure safer, healthier rivers for salmon and steelhead. We will include first-person accounts from anglers, guides, scientists and citizens on the Columbia-Snake rivers this summer.

Will you be on the river this summer? Do you have a story or photo you would like to share?  Please send to Sam Mace.

This is a joint project of the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Columbia Riverkeeper, Idaho Rivers United and Sierra Club.

 SPRING-SUMMER 2016 WATER TEMPERATURES AT LOWER SNAKE RIVER DAMS (4/1-8/15)

HWR.2016.LSR.8.16.2016

The graph above reflects water temperatures recorded in the lower Snake River reservoirs. The blue-toned lines reflect the average daily mean temperatures in each of the four reservoirs collected in the last 1-8 years, beginning on April 1. The red-toned lines reflect the 2016 daily mean temperatures at each of the four lower Snake River reservoirs since April 1. As one can see, earlier this season, daily mean water temperatures were frequently considerably warmer than the average daily mean temperature collected over the last 1-8 years. There has been considerably more overlap in these temperatures since approximately the middle of July.

Notably, temperatures in the Lower Snake River appear to have leveled off in recent weeks. Temperatures in the Lower Granite Dam reservoir are the lowest - hovering around 66 degrees. As you move downstream into the reservoirs of Little Goose, Lower Monumental and Ice Harbor  - temperatures gradually increase. Ice Harbor Dam's reservoir has the highest temperatures - hovering around 70 degrees.

 SPRING-SUMMER 2016 WATER TEMPERATURES AT LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER DAMS (4/1-8/15)

HWR.LCR.8.16.2016

This second graph above reflects water temperatures recorded in the lower Columbia River reservoirs. The blue-toned lines reflect the average daily mean temperatures in each of the four reservoirs collected in the last 1-20 years, beginning on April 1. The red-toned lines reflect the 2016 daily mean temperature at each of the four lower Columbia River reservoirs since April 1. Like the upper graph, earlier this season, daily mean water temperatures were frequently considerably warmer than the average daily mean temperature collected over the last 1-20 years. These temperature differentials have tightened considerably since approximately the middle of July.

Notably, temperatures in the Lower Columbia River reservoirs continue to read consistently above 68 degrees F. - ranging between 69 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit since mid-July.

LSR.HI.8.16.2016 copy

 

LCR.HI.8.16.2016 copy

These two tables reflect the previous week's high water temperatures in each of the eight reservoirs created by the lower Snake and lower Columbia River dams. Between August 8 and 15, temperatures have exceeded 68 degrees Fahrenheit all 7 days in two of the four lower Snake River reservoirs. Temperatures in each of the lower Columbia River reservoirs have exceeded 68 degrees every day.

Overall in the four lower Snake River reservoirs, 68 degrees has been reached or exceeded 16 times this past week and 93 times so far this summer.

In the four lower Columbia River reservoirs, 68 degrees has been exceeded every day in all four reservoirs for a total of 28 times this past week and 143 times so far this summer.

Salmon and steelhead begin to suffer harmful effects when water temperatures exceed 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The longer temperatures remain above 68 degrees and the farther the temperatures rise above 68 degrees, the more severe the effects, including: increased metabolism/increased energy usage, increased susceptibility to disease, reduced fecundity or reproductive potential, and/or death.

Temperature data included in these reports come from the USGS Current Conditions for Washington State. Graphs and tables were assembled by SOS Staff.


THIS WEEK ON THE RIVER: Fishing, conservation groups file to sue the EPA over failure to address hot water impacts on endanger salmon

Groups including the Pacific Federation of Fishermens Associations, Columbia Riverkeeper, Snake Riverkeeper and Idaho Rivers United filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act for failure to develop a plan to manage hot water temperatures in the Columbia-Snake Rivers affecting endangered wild salmon and steelhead.  If the agency doesn’t finalize a plan for managing lethal water temperatures and establish a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for water temperatures, groups will file suit.  

“Our members’ livelihoods depend on healthy salmon runs,” said Glen Spain, Northwest Regional Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and the Institute for Fisheries Resources.  “It’s simply unacceptable to let hot water kill otherwise-healthy adult salmon before they can spawn.“

"Agencies responsible for protecting wild salmon and our rivers have dragged their feet for years in addressing the growing threat of hot water temperatures caused by dams and climate change.  It’s time to develop real solutions to provide salmon with necessary refuge so they can thrive in the next century."

This notice was filed by the Advocates for the West. Read the legal notice, press release and Spokesman-Review story.

 


LINKS TO 2016 HOT WATER REPORTS AND OTHER RESOURCES:

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #1 - July 6

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #2 - July 12

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #3 - July 19

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #4 - July 26

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #5 - August 2

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #6 - August 9

SELECT 2016 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

MEDIA: Lawsuit Aims To Lower Columbia And Snake River Temperatures For Salmon (Oregon Public Radio, August 15, 2016)

MEDIA: Hot water poses ongoing threat to Columbia River salmon, groups say (Spokesman Review, August 15, 2016)

MEDIA: Reservoir Drawdown Could Spare Fish (Lewiston Morning Tribune, July 17, 2016)

MEDIA: Steps Taken To Cool Warming Lower Snake, Reduce Thermal Blocks As Large Basin Sockeye Return Heads Upstream (Columbia Basin Bulletin, July 1, 2016)

MEDIA: Columbia Basin Salmon/Hydro Managers Gear Up For Another Hot Summer: Will Sockeye Get Slammed Again? (Columbia Basin Bulletin, June 2016)

MEDIA: Middle Fork could regain role as salmon nursery (Idaho Mountain Express, May 27, 2016)

POLICY: EPA Comments on NOAA Fisheries 2015 Adult Sockeye Salmon Passage April 2016 draft Report (May, 2016)

LAW: N.W.F et al v. N.M.F.S. - U.S. District Court Opinion rejecting the federal salmon plan for Columbia and Snake river salmon and steelhead (Note: The Court's lengthy discussion of climate change begins on page 86. May 4, 2016)

MEDIA: Last year’s heat wave doomed nearly all Okanogan sockeye salmon (Seattle Times, April 13, 2016)

REPORT: Data Request Drawing Down Lower Granite Reservoir to Better Meet Water Quality Standards for Temperature (Fish Passage Center, June 2016)

SELECT 2015 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

MEDIA: Preliminary 2015 Spring Juvenile Survival Estimates Through Snake/Columbia River Dams Dismal (Columbia Basin Bulletin, October 23, 2015)

MEDIA: Dead Salmon, climate change and Northwest dams (Seattle Times Guest Opinion, August 2, 2015)

MEDIA: Snowpack drought has salmon dying in overheated rivers (Seattle Times, July 25, 2015)

MEDIA: Biologists bring sockeye into Idaho on trucks to get them out of hot water (Idaho Statesman, July 2015)

REPORT: Restoring Wild Salmon: Power system costs and benefits of lower Snake River dam removal (NW Energy Coalition, August 2015)

SELECT PRE-2015 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

REPORT: Bright Future: How to keep the Northwest’s lights on, jobs growing, goods moving, and salmon swimming in the era of climate change (NW Energy Coalition, 2009)

FACTSHEET: Bright Future 4-page summary factsheet (2009)

REPORT: A Great Wave Rising: Solutions for Columbia and Snake River Fish in an Era of Climate Change (SOS, NW Energy Coalition, Sierra Club, 2008

 SOS HwR

-- REPORT FOR AUGUST 9, 2016 --

INTRODUCTION: With weekly updates, The Hot Water Report 2016 tracks water temperatures, salmon survival and climate related developments in the Columbia-Snake River Basin this summer.  The report is updated weekly - published here every Tuesday - from early July through September. Each week we will share the most recent temperature data from the Columbia-Snake Rivers, news stories on climate change and current conditions for rivers and fisheries, and share information on actions state and federal agencies and our communities can take to ensure safer, healthier rivers for salmon and steelhead. We will include first-person accounts from anglers, guides, scientists and citizens on the Columbia-Snake rivers this summer.

Will you be on the river this summer? Do you have a story or photo you would like to share?  Please send to Sam Mace.

This is a joint project of the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Columbia Riverkeeper, Idaho Rivers United and Sierra Club.

 SPRING-SUMMER 2016 WATER TEMPERATURES AT LOWER SNAKE RIVER DAMS (4/1-8/7)

HWR.8.1.LSR

The graph above reflects water temperatures recorded in the lower Snake River reservoirs. The blue-toned lines reflect the average daily mean temperatures in each of the four reservoirs collected in the last 1-8 years, beginning on April 1. The red-toned lines reflect the 2016 daily mean temperatures at each of the four lower Snake River reservoirs since April 1. As one can see, earlier this season, daily mean water temperatures were frequently considerably warmer than the average daily mean temperature collected over the last 1-8 years. There has been considerably more overlap in these temperatures since approximately the middle of July.

Notably, temperatures in the Lower Snake River appear to have leveled off in recent days. Temperatures in the Lower Granite Dam reservoir are the lowest - hovering around 66 degrees - while temperatures at Ice Harbor Dam reservoir temperatures are highest - hovering around 70 degrees.

 SPRING-SUMMER 2016 WATER TEMPERATURES AT LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER DAMS (4/1-8/7)

HWR.8.1.LCR

This second graph above reflects water temperatures recorded in the lower Columbia River reservoirs. The blue-toned lines reflect the average daily mean temperatures in each of the four reservoirs collected in the last 1-20 years, beginning on April 1. The red-toned lines reflect the 2016 daily mean temperature at each of the four lower Columbia River reservoirs since April 1. Like the upper graph, earlier this season, daily mean water temperatures were frequently considerably warmer than the average daily mean temperature collected over the last 1-8 years. These temperature differentials have tightened considerably since approximately the middle of July.

Notably, temperatures in the Lower Columbia River continue to stay high in all four reservoirs with readings up above 68 degrees F. - ranging between 69 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit

HWR.LSR.hi.temp.8.1 copy

 

HWR.LCR.hi.temp.8.1 copy

These two tables reflect the previous week's high water temperatures in each of the eight reservoirs created by the lower Snake and lower Columbia River dams. Between August 1 and 7, temperatures have exceeded 68 degrees Fahrenheit all 7 days in three of the four lower Snake River reservoirs. Temperatures in each of the lower Columbia River reservoirs have exceeded 68 degrees every day in all four reservoirs.

Overall in the lower Snake River reservoirs, 68 degrees has been reached or exceeded 21 times this past week and 77 times so far this summer.

In the lower Columbia River reservoirs, 68 degrees has been exceeded every day in all four reservoirs for a total of 28 times this past week and 115 times so far this summer.

Salmon and steelhead begin to suffer harmful effects when water temperatures exceed 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The longer temperatures remain above 68 degrees and the farther the temperatures rise above 68 degrees, the more severe the effects, including: increased metabolism/increased energy usage, increased susceptibility to disease, reduced fecundity or reproductive potential, and/or death.

Temperature data included in these reports come from the USGS Current Conditions for Washington State. Graphs and tables were assembled by SOS Staff.


THIS WEEK ON THE RIVER: WILD SALMON AND CLIMATE CHANGE - THE LAW

 

From the Desk of Pat Ford - August 8, 2016

 

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon’s May 2016 verdict in the long-running Columbia-Snake salmon and dams case sets clear legal sideboards for helping salmon migrate climatic changes.  (You can read the court’s verdict here.)  The salmon and climate change section is pages 86-102.)    

 

First, it makes plain what the law requires, and thus sets basic standards for any strategy and recommendations on the subject.  The standards will apply to the government’s sixth attempt in 18 years to craft a lawful plan to restore Columbia-Snake wild salmon and steelhead.

 

Second, it crisply summarizes the basics of climate-salmon science as we know them today.  Scientists at NOAA, the Universities of Washington and Oregon, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and others have published much research on salmon and climate change in the past 15 years.  The court finds that “the best available information indicates that climate change will have a significant negative effect” on endangered or threatened salmon and steelhead species in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.  The court finds that NOAA paid illegally scant attention to this information, much of it developed by NOAA’s own scientists, in its 2014 plan to restore Columbia-Snake salmon.

 

Third, the court established a public process in which that science must be assessed, and in which Northwest people’s views on salmon and climate change must be heard. 

READ PAT'S ENTIRE ESSAY HERE.


LINKS TO 2016 HOT WATER REPORTS AND OTHER RESOURCES:

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #1 - July 6

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #2 - July 12

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #3 - July 19

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #4 - July 26

HOT WATER REPORT 2016: #5 - August 2

SELECT 2016 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

MEDIA: Reservoir Drawdown Could Spare Fish (Lewiston Morning Tribune, July 17, 2016)

MEDIA: Steps Taken To Cool Warming Lower Snake, Reduce Thermal Blocks As Large Basin Sockeye Return Heads Upstream (Columbia Basin Bulletin, July 1, 2016)

MEDIA: Columbia Basin Salmon/Hydro Managers Gear Up For Another Hot Summer: Will Sockeye Get Slammed Again? (Columbia Basin Bulletin, June 2016)

MEDIA: Middle Fork could regain role as salmon nursery (Idaho Mountain Express, May 27, 2016)

POLICY: EPA Comments on NOAA Fisheries 2015 Adult Sockeye Salmon Passage April 2016 draft Report (May, 2016)

LAW: N.W.F et al v. N.M.F.S. - U.S. District Court Opinion rejecting the federal salmon plan for Columbia and Snake river salmon and steelhead (Note: The Court's lengthy discussion of climate change begins on page 86. May 4, 2016)

MEDIA: Last year’s heat wave doomed nearly all Okanogan sockeye salmon (Seattle Times, April 13, 2016)

REPORT: Data Request Drawing Down Lower Granite Reservoir to Better Meet Water Quality Standards for Temperature (Fish Passage Center, June 2016)

SELECT 2015 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

MEDIA: Preliminary 2015 Spring Juvenile Survival Estimates Through Snake/Columbia River Dams Dismal (Columbia Basin Bulletin, October 23, 2015)

MEDIA: Dead Salmon, climate change and Northwest dams (Seattle Times Guest Opinion, August 2, 2015)

MEDIA: Snowpack drought has salmon dying in overheated rivers (Seattle Times, July 25, 2015)

MEDIA: Biologists bring sockeye into Idaho on trucks to get them out of hot water (Idaho Statesman, July 2015)

REPORT: Restoring Wild Salmon: Power system costs and benefits of lower Snake River dam removal (NW Energy Coalition, August 2015)

SELECT PRE-2015 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

REPORT: Bright Future: How to keep the Northwest’s lights on, jobs growing, goods moving, and salmon swimming in the era of climate change (NW Energy Coalition, 2009)

FACTSHEET: Bright Future 4-page summary factsheet (2009)

REPORT: A Great Wave Rising: Solutions for Columbia and Snake River Fish in an Era of Climate Change (SOS, NW Energy Coalition, Sierra Club, 2008)

From the Desk of Pat Ford - August 8, 2016

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon’s May 2016 verdict in the long-running Columbia-Snake salmon and dams case sets clear legal sideboards for helping salmon migrate climatic changes.  (You can read the court’s verdict at [url here].  The salmon and climate change section is pages 86-102.)    

First, it makes plain what the law requires, and thus sets basic standards for any strategy and recommendations on the subject.  The standards will apply to the government’s sixth attempt in 18 years to craft a lawful plan to restore Columbia-Snake wild salmon and steelhead.

Second, it crisply summarizes the basics of climate-salmon science as we know them today.  Scientists at NOAA, the Universities of Washington and Oregon, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and others have published much research on salmon and climate change in the past 15 years.  The court finds that “the best available information indicates that climate change will have a significant negative effect” on endangered or threatened salmon and steelhead species in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.  The court finds that NOAA paid illegally scant attention to this information, much of it developed by NOAA’s own scientists, in its 2014 plan to restore Columbia-Snake salmon.

Third, the court established a public process in which that science must be assessed, and in which Northwest people’s views on salmon and climate change must be heard.  

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