River Flow Impedes Smolt, Scientists sayby Staff
Opinion, Seattle Post-Intelligencer - February 20, 2003
PORTLAND -- Juvenile chinook salmon need a more stable flow of water through the upper Columbia River system to improve their chances of surviving their migration to the sea, according to a preliminary review by an independent panel of scientists.
The data suggest that power generation at hydroelectric dams causes river levels to slosh up and down, confusing the juvenile fish, the scientists said.
"If you were a salmon smolt and the river flow was reversing every couple of hours, it would be pretty confusing," said Charles Coutant of the Independent Scientific Advisory Board.
More study is needed, but the data indicate that juvenile fish passage and survival could be improved along the lower Snake River with better flow management even when river levels are low, Coutant told the Northwest Power Planning Council yesterday.
Council members said, however, that there may be little that managers can do to control water levels if the light snowpack and relatively dry winter leave the region with another drought.
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