-- 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)
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)
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
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)