CLEARWATER TRIBUNE HOME
MAY 20, 2010
Dworshak scheduled releases increase to assist outmigrating salmon
Commissioners oppose timing of drawdown, citing concerns over Memorial Day weekend recreation
In response to a request
from regional fish managers, the Corps will increase water releases at Dworshak
Dam and Reservoir starting May 19 to help
Water flows from Dworshak Dam will increase to 10,000 cubic feet per second starting just after on Wednesday morning, May 19, and will remain at 10,000 cubic feet per on Friday evening, May 21. The discharge will be reduced from full powerhouse (10,000 cfs) if the inflows to Lower Granite exceed 100,000 cfs (day average). Current modeling shows the releases from Dworshak boosting inflows to Lower Granite into the mid to upper-90,000 cfs range.
The Clearwater County Commissioners voiced opposition to the drawdown of the reservoir level at this time. The drop in level will impact recreation usage on the Memorial Day holiday weekend. This is historically the start of boating and camping season on the reservoir.
Evaluation of current juvenile salmon outmigration prompted the Fish Passage Advisory Committee to request an increase in water flows from Dworshak.
The FPAC is a regional group
composed of biologists and fish managers from NOAA-Fisheries; U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service; Idaho, Washington and Oregon statesí fish and wildlife
agencies, Native American tribes and the Northwest
Power and Conservation Councilís Fish Passage Center which evaluates
in-river conditions for
Recent juvenile salmon and
steelhead outmigration counts at Lower Granite Dam have been much lower than
anticipated. Through May 15 this season, only 1,965,823 juvenile salmon and
steelhead had passed through the juvenile fish facility at the dam Ė during
similar water forecast (snowpack and rainfall) conditions in 2005, more than
10,515,796 salmon and steelhead had passed through the JFF by May 15. The
unusually low numbers of juvenile
Outdoor recreation opportunities shouldnít be affected by the increase in flows through the weekend, said Corps recreation officials.
Recent weather had improved the possibility of refilling the reservoir. The maximum impact of these releases will be about three feet less of refill if the actual runoff volume is less than forecasted. With these releases to assist fish outmigration, the reservoir will likely fill to a level within 10 feet of full, according to Corps water managers.
While the lower water levels can make it more difficult to access the shoreline mini-camps, the popular destination and safe-harbor docks provide an excellent place for family and friends to meet, picnic, swim and have fun, according to recreation officials at Dworshak.
Floating destination docks
are located near the dam in
Floating safe-harbor docks are located in
Corps officials advise boaters and other
people using waterways both in Dworshak Reservoir and downstream of the dam on
The reserving of mini-camp sites along the Dworshak Reservoir shoreline is prohibited. Early placement of camping equipment at mini-camp sites in an attempt to save a spot can result in the removal of the camping equipment or a citation if personal gear is left unattended for an extended period.
For more information,
visitors are welcome to call the Corps of Engineers at
Corps staff manages the reservoir for multiple purposes, including fish out-migration enhancement (spring flow and summer flow), recreation, power and flood risk management, for example. The Corps carefully considers the value and impacts from any requested change in operations.
For more information about regional water-management activities, go online to the Corpsí Columbia Basin Water Management Division Web site at www.nwd-wc.usace.army.mil.