River Levels Low Even After Above-Average Rainfallsby Associated Press
The Oregonian, September 30, 2004
EUGENE, Ore. -- For the fifth year in a row, Northwest rivers and reservoirs have posted below-normal rainfalls, resulting in less water to generate electricity.
Most of the river basins in the Columbia-Snake river system received average to above-average rainfall between October 2003 and September 2004, according to figures compiled by the Bonneville Power Administration and National Weather Service.
But river flows remained below normal, about 75 percent to 85 percent of what they have averaged over the past 30 years.
The weather service reports that rainfall in the Columbia River basin above The Dalles was 101 percent of normal, with similar amounts for the Columbia above Grand Coulee Dam and on the Snake River above Ice Harbor Dam.
Bonneville Power Administration spokesman Bill Murlin said that despite below-normal river levels, the agency was able to meet all of its commitments and even sell some surplus power to California, although not as much as it does in normal years.
He said that's partly due to lower demand stemming from the region's ongoing economic slump and the recent closure of aluminum plants along the Columbia River that were huge electricity consumers. Assuming things don't change dramatically, the BPA should be able to weather the coming year at least as well, he said.
"Reservoirs are filling rather nicely, and I think most of them are going to hit their targets for this time of year," Murlin said. "So despite all these little pieces that have gone together that have said ... it was a below-average year in a series of below-average years, right now, pending anything catastrophic, we're in good shape."
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