-- 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.
SPRING-SUMMER 2016 WATER TEMPERATURES AT LOWER SNAKE RIVER DAMS (4/1-8/15)
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)
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.
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."
LINKS TO 2016 HOT WATER REPORTS AND OTHER RESOURCES:
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)
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)
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