<HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>96 Saving the Salmon (w/video), Andrew Sirocchi, Tri-City Herald</TITLE> </HEAD> <body bgcolor="FFFFFF" text="000000" link="0000FF" vlink="FF0000" alink="0000FF"> <basefont face="Arial, Tahoma, Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000033"> <TABLE border="0" width="100%" cellspacing="0"> <TR align="left" valign="top"> <td><small> <A href="https://sgi25.netservers.net/bluefish.org/thefilm.htm">the film</A><br> <A href="forum.htm">forum</A><br> <A href="library.htm">library</A><br> <A href="tutorial.htm">tutorial</A><br> <A href="contact.htm">contact</A> </small></td> <TD> <A href='ecologic.htm'><img src='images/ecologic.gif' border='0' width='110' height='110' align='center' alt=''Ecology and salmon related articles'></a> <TD> <CENTER><FONT FACE="Arial, Helvetica" COLOR="0000FF"> <strong><BIG><H2 align="center">Saving the Salmon (w/video)</H2> </BIG></STRONG></FONT><FONT COLOR="FF0000">by Andrew Sirocchi <BR>Tri-City Herald, June 30, 2007</FONT></CENTER> </TABLE> <HR> <P align="center"> Temporary Spillway Weir at McNary Dam video <P align="left"> UMATILLA -- McNary Dam's quarter-mile long spillway stretches neatly across the Columbia River, sending thousands of cubic feet of water per second crashing into a slop of foam and whitecaps. <p> It's a long way from the federal courtroom where salmon management has been stalled in hot debate. But for Brad Eby, an Army Corps of Engineers fish manager, it's where argument turns into action. <p> Eby has walked McNary's smooth concrete surface nearly every day for the past 28 years. <p> "A lot has changed since then," he recalled Friday over the roar of the water. <p> In March, one of the most significant changes in McNary's recent past came when the Corps retrofitted two of the 22 spillway bays to add prototype weirs. The weirs are intended to divert fish over the spillways instead of requiring them to go about 50 feet below the surface before being sucked through the dam. <p> If successful, the temporary weirs may change the standard for fish managers and the Corps could have a new answer to how to get anadromous fish past the dams of the Snake and Columbia rivers. <p> "The largest single problem for dams in the Columbia River is how to get juvenile fish past them," said Bob Lohn, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries and the Bush administration's top salmon official in the Northwest. "They come up to a dam and if there's not much in the way of passage, they follow the current. They mill around the forebay and ... they'll be sucked through the current. <p> "It's a way to get fish through but it's not optimal," he added later. <p> While the federal government is working on a new biological opinion to satisfy legal demands for salmon management, the Corps is under court order to maintain the level of water spilled for fish. But Lohn said fish biologists are finding the survival of juvenile fish isn't necessarily determined by how much water is spilled through the dams. <p> Instead, Lohn said, survival depends on how effectively the fish are able to move past the dams and how quickly they reach their destinations. <p> "Spill is necessary for survival," he said, "But it's not as evident or as popular a blessing as commonly thought." <p> Delays at the dams often prove deadly for fish. <p> Juveniles that are stalled at a dam looking for an exit become easy prey. Even if they eventually make it past the barriers unharmed, they'll find it more difficult to establish themselves and survive to adulthood if they reach their destination too late. <p> Fish that make the trip downstream faster can find cooler water that helps them metabolically. Fish that time the trip correctly find a healthier -- or more fertilized -- water column that provides them with vital food. <p> Early arrivers downstream also may enjoy the protection of turbid water that hides them from predators. <p> At peak times, hundreds of thousands of juvenile fish pass each day through McNary Dam on their migration toward the ocean. The temporary spillway weirs are intended to make that process faster. <p> McNary Dam was a marvel of engineering when it was put into operation in 1953, and work has continued to improve it ever since. The addition of 42 metal screens, for example, was intended to deflect juvenile fish from entering the 14 turbines that generate power. <p> Mark Smith, a Corps fish biologist, said McNary's spillways were never designed for fish-friendly passage, but that is changing with the new weirs. <p> Young chinook and steelhead typically stay near the water surface or between 10 to 15 feet deep, so diving 50 feet to find a passage is unnatural. Though the system allowed fish passage with little mortality, it also stalled juvenile fish for too long. <p> The temporary spillway weirs, which cost about $2 million each, are massive devices that weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds. They're designed to allow fish to pass the dam quickly and stay near the surface. They also save water for power generation. <p> "You get a much higher passage of fish for about one-third of the cost," said Greg Graham, Corps' project manager. <p> Final data for McNary's weirs hasn't been developed yet but Smith said spring tests showed the weirs allowed fish to pass with a 98 percent survival rate. Some fish were injured in the 14-foot fall, but the number was comparable to or better than most other fish passage systems. <p> So far, temporary weirs or similar passages have been installed at six of the eight dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers. John Day Dam will have a temporary weir installed in 2008 and Lower Monumental Dam will be fitted with a removable spillway later this year. <p> "Spill has the public perception of being fish-friendly," Lohn said. "What we're seeing is that there are better ways of getting fish through the dams." <p> <HR> <strong>Andrew Sirocchi</strong><br> <A href="http://www.tri-cityherald.com/tch/local/story/9092530p-9008582c.html"> <I>Saving the Salmon (w/video)</I></a><BR> <strong>Tri-City Herald</STRONG>, June 230, 2007 <HR> <P align="center"><CENTER> <BIG><strong>See what you can learn</STRONG></BIG><P> <A href="topic.htm">learn more on topics covered in the film</A><BR> <A href="https://sgi25.netservers.net/bluefish.org/video.htm">see the video</A><BR> <A href="script.htm">read the script</A><BR> <A href="songs.htm">learn the songs</A><BR> <A href="forum.htm">discussion forum</A><BR> <IMG src="salmon_swimming_md_wht.gif" width=150 height=70 alt="salmon animation"> </CENTER> </basefont> </body> </HTML>