SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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OVERSIGHT HEARING ON COLUMBIA/SNAKE RIVER DRAWDOWN PROPOSALS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON WATER AND POWER
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
MAY 31, 1997, WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 10532
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrinted for the use of the Committee on Resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
GEORGE MILLER, California
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
SAM FARR, California
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Water and Power Resources
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California, Chairman
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN B. SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
GEORGE MILLER, California
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
SAM FARR, California
ADAM SMITH, Washington
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
ROBERT FABER, Staff Director/Counsel
VALERIE WEST, Professional Staff
STEVE LANICH, Democratic Staff
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held May 31, 1997
Statement of Members:
Chenoweth, Hon. Helen, a Representative in Congress from the State of Idaho
Prepared statement of
Crapo, Hon. Michael, a Representative in Congress from the State of Idaho
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement of
Doolittle, Hon. John T., a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Prepared statement of
Statement of Witnesses:
Anderson, James J., Columbia Basin Research, University of Washington
Prepared statement of
Chapman, Sherl L., Executive Director, Idaho Water Users Association, Inc.
Prepared statement of
Eldrige, M. Steven, General Manager, Umatilla Electric Cooperative
Prepared statement of
Griffin, Brigadier General Robert H., Northwest Division Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Prepared statement of
Lovelin, Bruce J., Executive Director, Columbia River Alliance
Prepared statement of
Maddock, Todd, Member, Northwest Power Planning Council
Prepared statement of
Nelson, W.G., Director of Public Affairs, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
Prepared statement of
Penney, Samuel N., Chairman, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee
Prepared statement of
Ray, Charles, Wild Salmon Director, Idaho Rivers United
Prepared statement of
Robertson, Jack, Deputy Administrator, Bonneville Power Administration
Prepared statement of
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSanchotena, Mitch, Executive Coordinator, Idaho Steelhead and Salmon Unlimited
Prepared statement of
Stelle, William, Jr., Northwest Regional Director, National Marine Fisheries Service
Prepared statement of
Additional material supplied:
Bath, Hon. Philip E., Governor, State of Idaho, prepared statement of
Chapman, Sherl L., Executive Director, Idaho Water Users Association, Inc., answers to questions from Hon. Doolittle
Eldrige, M. Steven, General Manager, Umatilla Electric Cooperative, answers to questions from Hon. Doolittle
Griffin, Brigadier General Robert H., Northwest Division Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, answers to questions from Hon. Doolittle
Lovelin, Bruce J., Executive Director, Columbia River Alliance, answers to questions from the Subcommittee
National Marine Fisheries Service, answers to questions from Hon. Doolittle
Ray, Charles, Wild Salmon Director, Idaho Rivers United, answers to questions from Members
Robertson, Jack, Deputy Administrator, Bonneville Power Administration, answers to questions from Congressmen
Taylor, Arthur M., Chairman, Fish, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, prepared statement of
Idaho Steelhead & Salmon Unlimited, PO Box 2294, Boise, ID,
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC OVERSIGHT HEARING ON COLUMBIA/SNAKE RIVER DRAWDOWN PROPOSALS
SATURDAY, MAY 31, 1997
U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Water and Power, Committee on Resources, Lewiston, ID.
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:30 p.m., at the Grand Plaza Hotel, Lewiston, Idaho, Hon. John T. Doolittle, Chairman, presiding.
Members present: Representatives Doolittle, Chenoweth, and Crapo.
Staff present: Valerie West, Legislative Staff; Lara Chamberlain, Clerk; and Liz Birnbaum, Democratic Staff.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. The Subcommittee on Water and Power will please come to order.
The Subcommittee is meeting today to hear testimony concerning the Columbia/Snake River drawdown proposals.
At the request of Congressman Chenoweth and Congressman Crapotwo of my favorite colleagues, I might addthe Subcommittee has traveled to Lewiston for today's oversight hearing. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses concerning proposals to drawdown the four lower Snake River dams and the John Day Dam.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF HON. JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. DOOLITTLE. These proposals would have significant impacts on the Pacific Northwest and severe economic consequences for this area.
I appreciate the efforts of Congressman Chenoweth and Congressman Crapo to assure that the many complex issues surrounding these proposals will be aired here today.
We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on salmon recovery efforts, both in the Pacific Northwest and in California. Because of the substantial impacts of these proposals, the policies being considered must be thoroughly evaluated for their benefits to the fishery as well as their cost to society.
The Army Corps of Engineers is currently conducting a feasibility study of permanent natural river level drawdown at the four lower Snake River dams: Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental and Ice Harbor.
The Corps has made a determination that ''based on estimated biological benefits, costs and other environmental effects and regional acceptance, the permanent natural river option is the only drawdown alternative recommended for further study.''
This analysis is supposed to be completed in 1999 as called for in the National Marine Fisheries Service March 1995 biological opinion on hydropower operations. It will be the basis for decisions on whether the drawdowns should be implemented.
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The ramifications of implementing the permanent natural river alternative for the lower Snake dams are enormous. The permanent drawdown would radically alter or eliminate the current multi-purpose uses of the lower Snake River. Irrigation facilities on the four projects would be unusable without significant modifications. Commercial navigation on the lower Snake River from its confluence with the Columbia River to Lewiston would be eliminated. Power production at all four dams would also be eliminated.
In addition, the Corps estimates that the construction cost to bypass these four dams would be $533 million.
In addition to this proposal, there are proposals to draw down John Day Dam on the main stem of the Columbia to spillway crest or natural river levels.
While the Corps of Engineers has not prepared any preliminary estimate of the social and economic impacts, either proposal would definitely affect irrigation, power production, navigation and flood control.
The Corps has taken the position that they cannot implement these proposals without new statutory authority, since the proposed actions would eliminate or significantly affect specific project purposes provided for in the authorizing legislation.
As Chairman of the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Federal power marketing administrations and the Bureau of Reclamation, I can tell you that I will be following these studies over the next 2 years and will fully evaluate any recommendation made. I will also be examining the scientific data on which these decisions will be based.
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I do, however, look forward to hearing from today's witnesses as we begin our ongoing oversight of these proposals. I would like at this point to recognize the two representatives for the state of Idaho, Mrs. Chenoweth and Mr. Crapo, for any opening statement they may wish to make.
[The prepared statement of Hon. John T. Doolittle follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
At the request of Congresswoman Chenoweth and Congressman Crapo, the Subcommittee on Water and Power has traveled to Lewiston for today's oversight hearing. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses concerning proposals to drawdown the four lower Snake River dams and John Day Dam. These proposals would have significant impacts on the Pacific Northwest, and severe economic consequences for this area. I appreciate the efforts of Congresswoman Chenoweth and Congressman Crapo to ensure that the complex issues surrounding these proposals will be aired here today.
We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on salmon recovery efforts, both in California and the Pacific Northwest. Because of the substantial impacts of these proposals, the policies being considered must be thoroughly evaluated for their benefits to the fishery as well as their costs to society.
The Army Corps of Engineers is currently conducting a feasibility study of permanent natural river level drawdown at the four Lower Snake River damsLower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental and Ice Harbor. The Corps has made a determination that ''based on estimated biological benefits, costs, other environmental effects, and regional acceptance; the permanent natural river option is the only drawdown alternative recommended for further study.'' This analysis is supposed to be completed in 1999, as called for in the National Marine Fisheries Service March 1995 biological opinion on hydropower operations. It will be the basis for decisions on whether the drawdowns should be implemented.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The ramifications of implementing the permanent natural river alternative for the lower Snake dams are enormous. The permanent drawdown would radically alter or eliminate the current multi-purpose uses of the lower Snake River. Irrigation facilities on the four projects would be unusable without significant modifications. Commercial navigation on the lower Snake River from its confluence with the Columbia River to Lewiston would be eliminated. Power production at all four dams would also be eliminated. In addition, the Corps estimates that the construction costs to bypass these four dams would be $533 million.
In addition to this proposal, there are proposals to drawdown John Day Dam on the mainstem of the Columbia to spillway crest or natural river levels. While the Corps of Engineers has not prepared any preliminary estimates of the social and economic impacts, either proposal would definitely affect irrigation, power production, navigation and flood control.
The Corps has taken the position that they cannot implement these proposals without new statutory authority, since the proposed actions would eliminate or significantly affect specific project purposes provided for in the authorizing legislation.
As Chairman of the House Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the federal power marketing administrations and the Bureau of Reclamation, I can tell you that I will be following these studies over the next two years, and will fully evaluate any recommendations made. I will also be examining the scientific data on which these decisions will be based.
I do, however, look forward to hearing from today's witnesses as we begin our ongoing oversight of these proposals.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. HELEN CHENOWETH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you so much for bringing the Subcommittee on Water and Power to Lewiston, Idaho.
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On behalf of my constituents, I just want to issue to you a hearty Idaho welcome. My constituents and I are very grateful for this opportunity to be heard and to tell the committee our story.
I also want to welcome my friend and fellow member of the Subcommittee, Mike Crapo, to the 1st Congressional District. As a new member of the Subcommittee, he has already distinguished himself as a valuable member of the Resources Committee, and I am so very pleased he was able to make this journey from Idaho Falls.
Mr. Crapo also serves on the House Commerce Committee, and I think that the fact that he is here with me today would indicate how we work through our problems in Idaho together. It is a joy, a very sincere joy, to be able to serve with a man like Mike Crapo.
I also want to extend a warm and hearty welcome to all of our witnesses, each of whom have sacrificed a beautiful and very exciting Saturday afternoon to be with us today. As I was in my room just before coming down, I was viewing what could possibly have been a tornado that was moving across on the prairie, and being a girl from Kansas originally, I remember those signs.
Mr. Chairman, you heard me say over and over again in Washington, that in Idaho water is like gold. And I cannot stress this enough. The Snake and Clearwater Rivers are truly the lifeblood of our state. The various Federal, state and private water reclamation projects throughout Idaho have turned much of what was once arrid lands in the south to now green, productive farms and ranches which in turn have spawned our great cities in the south.
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These projects have benefited wildlife, recreation and Idaho's quality of life.
And to the north, the management of the Port of Lewiston is of vital concern to the entire northern area, as well as points east.
To that extent, we find ourselves today in an unfortunate decision. The various reclamation projects that this region is so dependent upon, cause harm to another of our valuable resources, our fish, our salmon and our steelhead. Some will present this as a Hobson's choice. Mr. Chairman, I on the other hand believe we can protect both our quality of life and our fish.
The reason I asked you, Mr. Chairman, to hold this hearing was to help both us and the public better understand the situation that we are in. The four lower Snake dams are operated now under the National Marine Fisheries Service 1995 Biological Opinion, which calls for flow augmentation, spill and barging.
And that was out without an act of Congress. That simply was a biological opinion.
And as we will hear today, the National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to issue a new biological opinion in 1999 on the salmon, and to decide later this summer whether to list the steelhead.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC These decisions may very well call for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams as well as the John Day. This will severely damage the region's economy and the people of my district. And our people here must be made aware of this coming threat, Mr. Chairman.
In fact, as we are here today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has done a study to draw down to the natural river the lower Snake dams. In the Corps' Interim Status Report the Army states, and I quote, ''Based on estimated biological benefits, costs, other environmental effects and regional acceptance, the permanent natural river option is the only drawdown alternative recommended for further study.''
This means, Mr. Chairman, that natural river breaching dams is the only option to be studied.
In my mind this issue is not an either/or situation, and I am deeply disturbed that the Federal entities appear to be making such. Mr. Chairman, these decisions and actions have huge implications to the region, both in ecological and economical terms. We must understand the ramifications of our decisions and actions. Often, it appears to me, people are not understanding that the removal of the dams is a very real possibility.
As we look here today, a May 1997 University of Idaho study ties 4,830 high paying jobs to the three local ports, Lewiston, Clarkston and Whitman County. Now, that may not sound like a lot of jobs to an Easterner, but here in Lewiston, the loss of these jobs would be devastating to the district and to my state.
Not only must we have all people making decisions, but if Idaho chooses to commit the resources, including our water, to recovery programs, we must ensure these programs are not purely hypothetical experiments, and that our efforts would yield tangible results.
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Decisions must be made on fact-based, integrated science, not emotionally driven rhetoric.
Mr. Chairman, when the Columbia, Snake and Clearwater reclamation projects were undertaken, there was a clear goal to improve the region's economy and at one point, help with the war effort.
We must now decide if our priorities have changed. What are our goals? What best serves the Pacific Northwest?
My goals, Mr. Chairman, are to preserve the fish and the economy. In my mind, these are not mutually exclusive.
Any policy change to the Northwest Power Act and the missions of the Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville Power Administration must be made by lawmakers, the elected officials responsible to the citizens, and not by bureaucrats, agencies or executive orders.
We cannot, must not pit Northern Idaho against Southern Idaho, the East against the West, and certainly not the fish versus the people. We are all in this together and must work together to protect all of our interests.
Mr. Chairman, with that, I again want to thank you very much for coming to Idaho. It is a great honor to have you here.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Helen Chenoweth follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. HELEN CHENOWETH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for bringing your subcommittee on water and power to Lewiston, Idaho. On behalf of my constituents, welcome. My constituents and I are grateful for this opportunity to be heard and to tell the committee our story.
I also want to welcome my friend and fellow member of the subcommittee, Mike Crapo, to the first congressional district. As a new member to the subcommittee, he has already distinguished himself as a valuable member of the Resources Committee, and I am so very pleased he was able to make the journey from Idaho Falls.
I also want to extend a warm welcome to all of the witnesseseach of whom have sacrificed this beautiful Saturday afternoon to be with us here today.
Mr. Chairman, you've heard me say it over and over again in Washington, ''water is like gold in Idaho.'' I cannot stress this enough. The Snake and Clearwater rivers are truly the lifeblood of our state. The various federal, state and private water reclamation projects throughout Idaho have turned much of what was once arid lands to now green, productive farms and ranches, which in turn have spawned our great cities. These projects have benefited wildlife, recreation and Idaho's quality of life.
That being said, we find ourselves today in an unfortunate and difficult situation. The various reclamation projects that this region is so dependent upon, cause harm to another of our valuable resources, our fishsalmon and steelhead. Some would present this as a ''Hobson's Choice.'' I, on the other hand, believe we can protect both our quality of life, and our fish.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The reason I asked you, Mr. Chairman, to hold this hearing, was to help both us and the public better understand the situation we are in. The four lower Snake dams are operated under the 1995 Biological Opinion, which calls for flow augmentation, spill and barging. And as we will heard, the National Marine and Fisheries Service (NMFS) is expected to issue a new biological opinion in 1999 on the salmon, and to decide later this summer whether to list the steelhead. These decisions may very well call for the removal of the four lower Snake river dams, as well as the John Day. This will severely damage the region's economy, and the people of my district must be made aware of this.
In fact, as we are here today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is studying and planning to drawdown to natural river the lower Snake dams. In the Corps' Interim Status Report, the Army Corps states, (and I quote) ''Based on estimated biological benefits, costs, other environmental effects, and regional acceptance; the permanent natural river option is the only drawdown alternative recommended for further study.'' This means, Mr. Chairman, that natural river (breaching dams) is the only option being studiedand that scares the life out of me! In my mind, this issue is not an ''either-or'' situation. And I am deeply disturbed that the federal entities appear to be making it such.
Mr. Chairman, these decisions and actions have huge implications to the region, both in ecological and economical terms. We must understand the ramifications of our decisions and actions. Often, it appears to me, people are not understanding that the removal of the dams is a very real possibility. We must go into this with our eyes wide-open.
As we will hear today, a May, 1997 University of Idaho study ties 4,830 high-paying jobs to the three local portsLewiston, Clarkston and Whitman County. Now that may not sound like a lot of jobs to an Easterner, but here in Lewiston, the loss of these jobs would be devastating to this region and to my state of Idaho.
Not only must we have all data before making decisions, but if Idaho chooses to commit its resources, including our water, to recovery programs, we must ensure that those programs are not mere hypothetical experiments, and that our efforts will yield tangible results. Decisions must be made on fact-based, integrated scienceNOT emotionally driven rhetoric. And most of all, Mr. Chairman, Idaho must be a full and willing partner, and must voluntarily deem this use of its water as a beneficial use. Any commitment of Idaho resources must be done in full compliance with Idaho state law and procedure.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, when the Columbia, Snake and Clearwater reclamation projects were undertaken, there was a clear goalto improve the region's economy and, at one point, help with the war effort. We must now decide if our priorities have changed. What are our goals? What best serves the Pacific Northwest? My goals, Mr. Chairman, are to preserve the fish and the economy. In my mind, these are not mutually exclusive.
Any policy change to the Northwest Power Act and the missions of the Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville Power Administration must be made by lawmakersthe elected officialsand not by bureaucrats, agencies or Executive Order. We cannot and must not pit North Idaho against Southern Idaho, the East against the West, and certainly not the fish against the people. We are all in this together, and we must work together to protect all interests.
With that, Mr. Chairman, let's hear from our witnesses.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you very much. Mr. Crapo is recognized for his statement.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. MICHAEL CRAPO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And let me also add my voice to that of Representative Chenoweth, in thanking you for coming to Idaho. I know how busy your schedule is and I know how many demands you have for the Committee's time for the hearing of the critical issues in the jurisdiction of this subcommittee. And I appreciate your attention to this critical issue.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I also want to commend Representative Chenoweth for having the perseverance and the ability to get you here. I know that your demands are many, and that it is important that we have advocates like Representative Chenoweth who work so hard and effectively at Congress to make sure that attention is paid to these critical interests in our area.
I think the hearing is very timely. We are at a point in Idaho and in the Pacific Northwest right now where we face not only the critical issues of how to address the question of drawdowns or other river management issues, but we are also looking at the nationwide, the issue of electric energy restructuring of the entire electric energy industry.
And in the Pacific Northwest, that significantly involves hydropower decisions, which involves decisions relating to how we manage our rivers.
And I don't think it's any surprise to anybody, but often we have to step back and think about the fact that people in the Pacific Northwest, in fact people in the world, generally live near water, because water is such a critical part of our lives. We live near it for drinking water. In the Pacific Northwest we utilize our rivers for flood control; our facilities for flood control, for irrigation, for power generation, for fish and wildlife, and the tremendous environmental treasures which we have been blessed with here. I don't know if I mentioned recreation. I mean, the list goes on and on.
Transportation is a very critical issue that we will be addressing here today I'm sure.
And the list goes on and on with regard to the purposes for which the river system serves the people in the Pacific Northwest. And whether it is under the Endangered Species Act with regard to salmon recovery and steelhead, or whether, if it is with regard to the issues that are being raised with regard to restructuring of the electric energy industry, decisions that will be made hopefully soon with regard to salmon recovery and hopefully well with regard to salmon recovery and the energy and power issues, will dramatically impact Idahoans in every way.
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And because of that, I believe it's critically important that we address these issues properly here in the Pacific Northwest.
I just want to get a plug in right now, Mr. Chairman, as we go into some of these battles, I'm going to be one that you will see fighting very aggressively for regional control over decisions relating to management of our rivers here in the Pacific Northwest.
All too often I think we have seen that the decisionmaking structure that we have not only takes away from the people who live here near the issues, the ability to control their destiny, but forces us into a decisionmaking process that too often gives us low results for the economy and low results for the environment.
And I agree with Representative Chenoweth, we don't need to be satisfied with that type of results. We can have results that are better for the economy and better for the environment, if we move to a decisionmaking process that lets the people of the region come together and have the ability to make decisions about their future.
Our people will protect the fish. Our people will protect the economy. And they will do it with common sense solutions. And we need to move in that direction.
I just wanted to indicate that I do have some pretty strong concerns about the process that is being followed, and hopefully as we address not only the questions of the technology and the science and the impacts that will result from some of the proposed solutions that we face, we also need to address the entire question of how the process is addressed.
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I believe that as we approach the energy restructuring issue, we cannot separate it from the issue of river governance, and we must put into place in the Pacific Northwest a system of river governance that deals with fish and wildlife, as well as power and many other issues that are at stake; transportation, and flood control, irrigation and so forth. One which lets all of us participate in that process and which allows all of those interests and concerns to be brought to the table when issues are being made as to how we will govern our river.
Again, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for bringing this committee to Idaho, and I'm sure that you will find a significant amount of important information that will help you better understand our issues today.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Michael Crapo may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you very much.
We have three distinguished panels of witnesses at today's hearing.
On our first panel, we have Mr. Todd Maddock, who is a member of the Northwest Power Planning Council. He will then be followed by Brigadier General Robert H. Griffin, the Northwest Division Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who will then be followed by Mr. Jack Robertson, Deputy Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration. He will then be followed by Mr. William Stelle, Jr., Northwest Regional Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service. And then our final witness on this panel will be Mr. Samuel N. Penney, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee.
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As is customary with this Subcommittee, we would ask you to rise and to raise your right hands and take the oath. The witnesses have been previously advised of the Subcommittee's intention to place all witnesses under oath. And if you would raise your right hands.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Let the record reflect that each responded in the affirmative.
Under the Committee rules, we have these three lights before you, and we would ask you to attempt to keep your testimony to 5 minutes. We have a number of witnesses today, and there is a certain time constraint related to flights and the use of the room.
At the beginning of the fifth minute, the yellow light will go on, just as a guide. We won't cut you off when the red light goes on, but try and wrap up as quickly as possible.
And with that, Mr. Maddock, I will recognize you for your testimony.
STATEMENT OF TODD MADDOCK, MEMBER, NORTHWEST POWER PLANNING COUNCIL
Mr. MADDOCK. I am having a little difficulty here with our speaker, but, Mr. Chairman, and Congresswoman Chenoweth and Congressman Crapo and other distinguished guests, I am Todd Maddock, one of Idaho's two representatives to the Northwest Power Planning Council.
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I am here today to present comments on behalf of Governor Phil Batt. The Governor would like to extend his warm welcome for the entire state of Idaho.
It's a pleasure to have this committee in Lewiston to receive comments on river operations. The configuration of dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers are critical to the survival of our salmon and steelhead, and to our water-based economy. Not just here in Lewiston, which is the furthest inland oceangoing port on the Columbia and Snake River system, but also our salmon and steelhead fishermen and the commerce they generate, our river-based recreation industries, and to the irrigated agricultural lands that lie upstream in Southern Idaho.
These rivers, with their dams and anadromous fish, have caused a public debate unparalleled in the Pacific Northwest. Regional and Federal Governments, namely the National Marine Fisheries Service, will be deciding in 1999 which recovery path to follow toward restoration of our salmon and steelhead runs.
Recovery options include dam modifications, adjustment of river operations, perhaps including some various forms of drawdowns, juvenile fish transportation, increased in-river juvenile migration, which may include managed spills, and of course a combination of all of these options.
More extreme measures are being proposed by various interests and other Federal agencies. These issues are dam breaching and heavy flow augmentation from upstream storage reservoirs. Both of these methods have a devastating impact on Idaho's economy.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Regional leaders and managers alike are on a quest for the best biological, economical and social information in order to make these important decisions by 1999.
A component of this decision path is the drawdown study of the four lower Snake River dams. The Governor of Idaho continues to request the best available information in order to resolve these river management issues. He is not willing, however, to sacrifice the Port of Lewiston, and is firmly committed to the continuation of commercial barging on both river systems. He is also on record supporting studies on John Day reservoir with all expediency so that that regional decision can be made relative to drawdown.
Completion of these studies is essential to understanding all aspects of the issue and makes sound public policy.
Let me note that these economic and biological studies of John Day are important because of its sheer size and because we know less about this reservoir than any other on the system.
Funding is needed now so that we can proceed with studies that do not duplicate other efforts already in progress. In 1996 and 1997 the state of Idaho proposed to the Federal agencies a sensible balance between juvenile transportation and in-river migration using controlled spill. We called this policy ''Spread the Risk'' and believed that it balances the needs of fish with important economic factors. Idaho's ''Spread the Risk'' strategy will also provide the additional information that the region needs to make the best possible decisions.
Our policy has received positive response from the region but has been met with continual resistance from the Federal implementing agencies.
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The Northwest can commit up to $435 million a year to these efforts. Roughly $250 million of that total are going to fish recovery projects and research as well as capital improvements to the dams. Such improvements include improved fishjuvenile fish bypass facilities, adult fish ladders, experimental surface collectors, improved barges, fish guidance screens, improved turbines, and advanced monitoring and tracking systems. The remaining dollars are not actual expenditures but rather foregone revenue for the Bonneville Power Administration, depending upon the amount of spill and demand for electricity.
As the Northwest Power Planning Council, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other Federal and state agencies in the region race to supply policymakers with economic and biological information, we must begin to make these hard choices concerning the recovery of our anadromous fish.
1999 is right around the corner, and we must be prepared to decide how to proceed.
The primary obstacle in finding a solution to these problems is deciding once and for all what is the appropriate decisionmaking process for the region. An effective salmon recovery and river governance process must include all responsible government entities in the region, from Federal and state, to tribal and local. All must be included if we hope to succeed.
The current Federal process is falling on hard times because critical players like the state of Montana and the lower river Tribes are pulling out, citing National Marine Fisheries reluctance to work with them in good faith.
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Governor Batt also is disappointed in the Federal Government's reaction to Idaho's initiatives and NMFS departure from proper process in mid-rivermid-season river management.
I would like to add that the Endangered Species Act, as currently written, works against regional efforts to recover the anadromous fish runs and must be sensibly reformed.
The Governor is very troubled by the attitude of many that seek to manipulate the process by lawsuits. The courts are not the proper place to resolve this critical issue.
The Pacific Northwest needs to come to closure on the issue of river governance. If a particular process is endorsed by all government entities in the region, and full participation occurred, we would not need to have Congressional hearings like the one here today.
An effective river governance structure would put the decisionmaking authority firmly in the hands of the region's policymakers, as it should be. Federal agencies involved in this issue must actively support such a process and not merely provide lip service and then invoke their veto authority and set separate policy.
In closing, the Governor would like to thank you for having this important hearing in Idaho. Drawdowns is only one of the many issues facing the region as we work to recover our anadromous fish runs. All parties must first agree on a process if we ever hope to make decisions necessary to see recovery realized.
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[The prepared statement of Governor Philip E. Batt, Governor, State of Idaho as presented by Mr. Maddock follows:]
STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF HON. PHILIP E. BATH, GOVERNOR, STATE OF IDAHO
Congressman Doolittle, Congressman Crapo, Congresswoman Chenoweth and other distinguished guests. I am Todd Maddock, one of Idaho's two representatives to the Northwest Power Planning Council. I am here today to present comments on behalf of Governor Phil Batt. The Governor would like to extend his warm welcome from the entire state of Idaho.
It is a pleasure to have this subcommittee in Lewiston to receive comments on river operations. The configuration of dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers are critical to the survival of our salmon and steelhead and to our water based economy. Not just here in Lewistonwhich is the farthest inland ocean-going port on the Columbia and Snake river systembut also to our salmon and steelhead fishermen and the commerce they generate, our river based recreation industries, and to the irrigated agricultural lands that lie upstream in Southern Idaho.
These rivers, with their dams and anadromous fish, have caused a public debate unparalleled in the Pacific Northwest. Regional and federal governments, namely the National Marine Fisheries Service, will be deciding in 1999 which recovery path to follow toward restoration of our salmon and steelhead runs. Recovery options include dam modifications; adjustments to river operations, perhaps including some various forms of drawdowns; juvenile fish transportation; increased in-river juvenile migration which may include managed spills; and, of course, a combination of all these options. More extreme measures are being proposed by various interests and other federal agencies. These issues are dam breaching and heavy flow augmentation from upstream storage reservoirs. Both of these methods would have a devastating impact on Idaho's economy.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Regional leaders and managers alike are on a quest for the best biological, economical and social information in order to make these important decisions by 1999.
A component of this decision path is the drawdown study of the four lower Snake River Dams. The Governor of Idaho continues to request the best available information in order to resolve these river management issues. He is not willing, however, to sacrifice the port of Lewiston, and is firmly committed to the continuation of commercial barging on both river systems. He is also on record supporting studies at John Day Reservoir with all expediency so that a regional decision can be made relative to drawdown. Completion of these studies is essential to understanding all aspects of the issue, and to make sound public policy.
Let me note that these economic and biological studies of John Day are important because of its sheer size, and because we know less about this reservoir than any other on the system. Funding is needed now so that we can proceed with studies that do not duplicate other efforts already in progress.
In 1996 and 1997, the state of Idaho proposed to the federal agencies a sensible balance between juvenile transportation and in-river migration using controlled spill. We call this policy ''Spread the Risk'' and believe that it balances the needs of the fish with important economic factors. Idaho's Spread the Risk Strategy will also provide the additional information that the region needs to make the best possible decisions. Our policy has received positive response from the region, but has been met with continual resistance from the federal implementing agencies.
The Northwest can commit up to $435 million a year to these efforts. Roughly $250 million of that total are going to fish recovery projects and research as well as capital improvements to the dams. Such improvements include improved juvenile fish by pass facilities, adult fish ladders, experimental surface collectors, improved barges, fish guidance screens, improved turbines, and advanced monitoring and tracking systems. The remaining dollars are not actual expenditures, but rather, forgone revenue for the Bonneville Power Administration depending upon the amount of spill and demand for electricity.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As the Northwest Power Planning Council, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other federal and state agencies in the region race to supply policy makers with economic and biological information, we must begin to make these hard choices concerning the recovery of our anadromous fish. 1999 is right around the corner, and we must be prepared to decide how to proceed.
The primary obstacle for finding a solution to these problems is deciding once and for all what is the appropriate decision making process for the region. An effective salmon recovery and river governance process must include all responsible government entities in the region, from federal and state, to tribal and local. All must be included if we hope to succeed. The current federal process is falling on hard times because critical players like the state of Montana and the Lower River Tribes have pulled out, citing the National Marine Fisheries Service's reluctance to work with them in good faith. Governor Batt is also disappointed with the federal government's reaction to Idaho's initiatives and NMFS's departure from proper process in mid-season river management.
I would like to add that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as currently written works against regional efforts to recover the anadromous fish runs, and must be sensibly reformed. The Governor is very troubled by the attitude of many that seek to manipulate the process by lawsuits. The courts are not the proper place to resolve this critical issue.
The Pacific Northwest needs to come to closure on the issue of river governance. If a particular process was endorsed by all government entities in the region, and full participation occurred, we would not need to be having congressional hearings like the one here today. An effective river governance structure would put the decision making authority firmly in the hands of the region's policy makers, as it should be. Federal agencies involved in this issue must actively support such a process, and not merely provide lip service and then invoke their veto authority and set a separate policy.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing, the Governor would like to thank you for having this important hearing in Idaho. Drawdown is only one of the many issues facing the region as we work to recover our anadromous fish runs. All parties must first agree on a process if we ever hope to make the decisions necessary to see recovery realized.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you very much.
Gen. Griffin, you are recognized for your testimony.
STATEMENT OF BRIGADIER GENERAL ROBERT H. GRIFFIN, NORTHWEST DIVISION COMMANDER, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
Gen. GRIFFIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the other Committee members and distinguished guests. I am General Robert Griffin, Commander of the newly formed Northwestern Division, that was part of the 1997 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act that said the Corps must get to between six and eight divisions.
In the process there you might wonder what happened to North Pacific Division that I took command of. It is now combined with the Missouri River Division. So I have offices in both Portland and Omaha. Clearly, by my being here today, those dual duties will not take away from my salmon recovery efforts. That I can assure you.
I now have five districts. I lost Alaska. I have Seattle, Walla Walla, Portland, Kansas City and Omaha.
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I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today. There are three areas I want to touch on: the proposed drawdown studies that we have on the lower Snake River, and the one that is currently in abeyance on the John Day reservoir; the potential effects of drawdown options for the Snake River study; and also the regional coordination that we will do during the study process.
Sir, I have submitted detailed written testimony for the record. And, sir, I would also like to add a lot of the points you made, I am just going to reinforce some of them very quickly. Your opening statement pretty well reflects my oral statement here.
The Corps in cooperation with the region is conducting a feasibility study of options for improving fish passage conditions over the long-term in the lower Snake Reservoir, or river system.
The options are, Ma'am, I would like to reiterate, permanent natural river drawdown is one option, surface bypass is another, and the existing condition with fish passage improvements is another.
We are doing this in accordance with the biological opinion, but we are also doing these studies because we believe that these drawdowns offer a potential for improved salmon survival at the dams.
The drawdowns would likely provide better in-river conditions, it would eliminate adult and juvenile salmon passage mortality at the dams. And it will improve speed through the river system.
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And the challenge is, sir, as we talked earlier, to quantify these benefits and determine whether this will lead to recovery of the salmon stocks.
Our charge is to perform a regional analysis to develop the best scientific information. There will definitely be tradeoffs, sir, as you admit, or stated there. We will not breech the damages, we would in effect go around them. This is on the Snake River.
The powerhouses, spillways and navigation locks would be decommissioned, and in effect mothballed. The preliminary construction estimate to implement a permanent natural level drawdown at the four dams is $530 million.
Sir, I would like to highlight that is a very preliminary number. It is about 4 years old, taken out of a System Operations Review study that we had done before. It does not include any mitigation or any other impacts, such as lost revenue to BPA.
As you say, sir, it would radically change our multi-purpose projects as we know them today. Facilities for irrigation, municipal and industrial water supply would be rendered unusable without costly modifications which at this point we estimate at about $35 million. Commercial navigation of the lower Snake River would be eliminated. Our current study of natural river level drawdown is a detailed engineering, biological, social, and economic analysis. So it will look at all of those in great detail.
The report, sir, as you say, and the accompanying EIS, and that is very important, these two documents go together. There will be a report, and an Environmental Impact Statement, along with environmental assessment and the bilogical opinion done by National Marine Fisheries Service. Those will be produced in 1999, according to the 1995 biological opinion.
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This study will serve as a basis for decisions on whether drawdowns or other alternatives, such as surface bypass or improvements to existing systems, should be implemented.
Regarding John Day reservoir drawdown, sir, we have already looked at what is called minimum operating pool. We have studied that. We will not study that again, and the Power Planning Council also asked us not to do that. So we will not do that.
Our study of deeper drawdowns to spillway crest or natural river was suspended pending scientific justification as a result of the 1996 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act. We got that justification from NMFS and have gone back to the two subcommittees, House and Senate. We asked for $1.5 million in study money in 1997. And also $3.2 million in fisscal year '98 to continue the studies.
Sir, that request to continue the study and the documentation is with the Subcommittees now, and we have not gotten a response.
So, on the John Day drawdown, I can neither give you a scope, nor a schedule, until we get money back and can work with the region to scope this and then come up with a cost and time schedule.
Coordination, sir, on the lower Snake River feasibility, we see as very important. We will work, coordinate closely with all interests throughout the study and the EIS process.
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In fact, we have regional groups working now to evaluate the biological benefits and economic effects. Two of those are the Drawdown Regional Economic Work Group and the PATH group, which is the Plan for Analyzing and Testing Hypothese, It will provide the scientific rigor we need for these studies.
We will conduct many public meetings, as required by NEPA, and by our study process, and we will do workshops involving public interest groups, state and Federal agencies, Native American Tribes and scientific groups. We will also communicate through existing work groups associated with the NMFS regional forum process.
And, sir, the final comment I would like to make and probably the most important is, while we have the authority to do the study, we don't have authority to implement drawdowns without going to Congress for project reauthorization. So we can study, but we're going to have to come back to Congress if we change the current multi-purpose project authority that we have today.
Sir, that concludes my oral testimony.
[The prepared statement of Gen. Griffin may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Robertson is recognized.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF JACK ROBERTSON, DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR, BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION
Mr. ROBERTSON. Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, thanks for the time this morning. I am going to ask again, as did the General, that my full statement be submitted for the record, and I am going to briefly summarize it.
I want to thank the Committee first for its help to Bonneville in trying to get Bonneville stabilized and its financial condition healthy in the last 3 years.
You are aware we have made a number of decisions, some of which we couldn't have made without the help of Congress and the administration the effect of these decisions is that we have cut $600 million in cost and $2,000 of our FTE. We have recontracted for power sales for the next 5 years for two and a half billion dollars per year in revenues, and thereby have guaranteed revenues in the bank for the next 5 years, to the year 2001.
We are making our $850 million treasury payment and our funding to fish and wildlife that are on the average above $400 million per year. And we have had a number of tools that we needed to get that done, and you helped us to do that, and I just wanted to officially thank you while we are here.
We have completed an initial analysis of the effect of the drawdown of the lower Snake and John Day reservoirs.
We expected that our work on the power system effects will be more refined and comprehensive as we participate with the Corps and the other parties in their drawdown feasibility study.
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Bonneville will review a range of alternatives and provide that range for both public and independent review.
I am now summarizing my written, formal testimony.
First of all, there are two fundamental things regarding draw down that I want to say today. First, there is a potential for lost generation and there is a question of the total cost associated with that, and I want to go through both of those things fairly quickly.
First of all, lost generation. The lower Snake projects generate 1,231 average megawatts of power, or about 12 percent of the total Federal hydro system sold by Bonneville.
John Day Dam generates by itself an additional 1200 average megawatts of power.
With the natural river drawdown at John Day all 1200 megawatts would be eliminated. Under a spillway crest drawdown alternative, 560 average megawatts would be lost.
If the natural river drawdown option were chosen at all five projects, a total of just over 2400 average megawatts of energy would be eliminated.
The total energy capacity of these five projects is just under 6,000 megawatts. The loss of revenue, energy capacity and energy reliability from these projects would, under existing law, be borne by Bonneville's system.
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The five projects represent 24 percent of Bonneville's system, or about 10 percent of the total regional energy system.
To give a yardstick of comparison, in the last 17 years since the Northwest Power Act passed, Bonneville has, through one of the most aggressive conservation programs in the nation, saved 640 average megawatts of energy in the region.
The loss of 2400 average megawatts of generation from these five projects represents over three times the energy conservation saved in the region since 1980 through Bonneville's conservation program.
Now let me quickly talk about cost implications. This analysis only relates to energy costs. It does not include any costs associated with the loss of transportation, recreation, irrigation, cultural resources or other issues. The Corps General has already indicated those will also be studied as well.
The cost of assumptions here assume a medium forecast for energy prices.
In simple terms, when considering the effect of the natural river drawdown, the lower Snake projects and John Day reservoir, there are at least five categories, or tiers of cost, that need to be considered.
The first tier is debt. First there is an outstanding Federal appropriation or debt for the five dams. This debt is now the obligation of the Bonneville Power Administration and is paid by ratepayers of the Northwest. It totals $1.3 billion for the four Snake dams and John Day.
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The second tier is construction costs: bypassing the dams to create the natural river conditions. The Corps, as the General indicated, has already estimated preliminarily that the cost of lower Snake drawdowns is just about $500 million.
Our analysis done for the Northwest Power Planning Council, assumes the cost of the John Day construction would be a little under $1 billion. These are preliminary costs and they would total, if put together, about $1.5 billion. That's the second tier.
The third tier of costs is the largest, and that is related to the energy revenue that would be lost to Bonneville as a result of bypassing generation at the projects.
Our initial assessment assumes again a medium price forecast for energy, out into the future, and that the 1995 biological opinion operations on the river, including flow and spill programs on the Columbia system, remain in place. Changes in energy prices and river operations could affect these numbers up or down.
With these assumptions, then, the net present value today of the future lost revenues associated with electric generation at the lower Snake projects, if they were removed, is $3.5 billion. On a levelized annual basis, this would be about $208 million per year over the next 50 years.
The value for lost generation, assuming natural river drawdown at John Day, is $228 million per year, or just over $4 billion in net value for the next 50 years.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Spillway crest drawdown at John Day would reduce the $228 million per year figure by roughly half.
Therefore, the total net present value of lost revenues from the natural river drawdown at all five projects, to give this some context, would total just over $7.5 billion in today's dollars. This value accounts for $1.8 billion in costs, operating and maintaining and rehabilitating these projects that will need to be invested in the projects during their remaining life.
So, in other words, that number is netted against the $1.8 billion already.
There are two other tiers of potential costs that should also be considered, although we don't have specific numbers for them today.
The first is electrical reliability. The loss in hydro generation capability of these projects may have serious electrical reliability implications. The scope of the impacts would depend on when, where, how the lost generation was replaced and whether additional transmission lines would need to be built.
We used, for example, these projects quite extensively in the freeze of 1989 when we were going beyond the regional energy system's capacity by significant amounts, and they were very valuable then.
Much more analysis needs to be done before we could judge the cost associated with maintaining the reliability of the regional system.
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No costs have been included in the analysis I just presented to account for potential system reliability impacts.
Finally, air quality. The electric energy produced by these renewable hydro projects is energy that is compatible with clean air. Bonneville recently received an award from the National Resources Defense Council for having the lowest of air emissions of any electric generation system in the west. Federal standards are being considered to place additional cost on electric generation from coal, oil or natural gas to mitigate the pollution they cause, including CO2 pollution.
If the hydro generation from the four Snake projects alone were lost and replaced by modern combustion, in other words, state-of-the-art combustion turbines fired by natural gas, our preliminary analysis indicates it would result in over four million metric tons of CO2 per year in the atmosphere. Loss of John Day generation would significantly increase likely double, this number.
So, finally, the cumulative rate impacts, which I will try to summarize here, because I am over my time. Despite our cost cuts, Bonneville is still about 10, 20 percent above the marketplace right now. We hope that the marketplace will change. Our contracts are locked up for 5 years. We are looking to get our costs down to two cents in 2000, and we think that will make us competitive. But right now we are about 10 percent or 20 percent over market.
If we were adding together all of the costs I just described and applying them to a rate impact, it would depend upon how many of those tiers of costs were borne by the ratepayers versus the taxpayers, add 10 to 25 percent on our cost structure.
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In today's market conditions, we simply couldn't do that without ending up having serious economic impacts for the agency and the U.S. Treasury. And what those would be, I think, requires further analysis. We are committed to do that as a result of the Corps study.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I will submit my testimony.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Robertson may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. Mr. Stelle is recognized.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM STELLE, JR., NORTHWEST REGIONAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE
Mr. STELLE. Mr. Chairman, and Mrs. Chenoweth, Mr. Crapo, thank you for the invitation for us to testify here today before you. I appreciate that.
I'm going to skip the details of my written testimony I would like to submit it for the record and summarize a couple observations.
The NMFS role and the Federal role in the recovery and restoration of anadromous fish in the Snake basin is in some respects fundamentally fairly simple. It is to develop a restoration effort that meets the requirements of Federal law that is biologically sound, and legally defensible.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Those Federal laws include the Federal Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Northwest Power Planning Act, and importantly, Federal trust obligations to the treaty Tribes of the Columbia and Snake Basin.
The recovery effort is a comprehensive effort that involves all stages of the life cycle. It involves improving and protecting freshwater spawning and rearing habitat, improving survivals through the downstream migration through the hydropower corridor, improving survivals while the salmonids are in the ocean, and when they return to their spawning grounds.
The restoration effort, thus, is a comprehensive cradle-to-grave effort.
The topic that we will discuss today in more detail is but one component of that larger effort. It is how do we improve survivals of these salmonids through the main stem migration corridor that is populated by at least eight major Federal dams.
The 1995 biological opinion by the National Marine Fisheries Service found that the Federal hydropower system does jeopardize the continued existence of these runs, and it needs to be improved.
The NMFS opinion developed an alternative that calls for interim measures to immediately improve salmon survivals while additional information is developed on the long-term options for the system itself. Those decisions on the long-term are scheduled for 1999.
Going back to my first major point concerning a legally defensible and biologically sound approach, we are pleased that a Federal Court recently concluded that this opinion and its implementation by the Federal agencies meets the requirement of the Endangered Species Act and Federal law.
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We have been and remain committed to a biologically sound and legally defensible restoration strategy for anadromous salmonids, and the decision of the court is gratifying.
We were furthermore impressed that Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska all argued in the litigation for full and effective implementation of that opinion as the proper pathway.
Given the substantial disagreements over salmonid recovery here in this system, that is progress indeed.
Today, as at the time when NMFS issued its the biological opinion, there is a rift on what is the best pathway to improve survivals through the hydropower corridor.
One side argues that the runs have declined to the point of listing during the two decades that we have been barging fish around the Federal dams instead of sending them through them, and it is time to conclude that barging doesn't work and to put the fish back in the river because that will be a better course. And change the configuration of the system by taking out some of the damsSnake dams or main stem dams.
The other side arguing that factors beside the hydropower system have led to the fishes' decline, that juvenile fish transportation provides about as much improvement in salmon survival as would the removal of the Snake dams, and that given the present configuration of the dams, the best thing to do in the immediate term is to transport as many fish as one can collect.
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In light of these deep divisions within the region, NMFS has identified several areas of uncertainty and committed to addressing them with the Army Corps of Engineers, and with the states and the Tribes in the region.
These questions include what is the mortality rate of fish migrating in the river, what is the ability of the transportation system to mitigate for that mortality, what is the survival rate needed to ensure the survival and the recovery of these anadromous stocks, and will either of the two major pathways, continued and improved transportation, or natural river, get us there.
My testimony goes through a number of the empirical studies that are under way to give us the data that will enable the region to make better choices on which option is likely to get us to our goal. I will not summarize those data efforts now.
I would only emphasize to you that it is very powerful work underway, and we need to maintain that work and remain committed to it because it will give us the best information we can generate on which option is the best option.
This decision cannot be by a flip of a coin. There must be a reasoned approach to an important decision facing the Pacific Northwest. The Federal agencies remain committed to that, and our role in particular is to develop a set of options for salmonid recovery and for the hydropower system to develop the information on what each of those options may buy us and what they may cost us. And then to engage in a discussion with the leadership of the Pacific Northwest to answer the question, which option is the right option for the region.
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That is the pathway we are on. We remain committed to it. We remain committed to a collaboration with the states and the Tribes in that effort. And first and foremost and fundamentally, we remain committed to generating the best science we can to use as the compass in that decisionmaking.
Mr. Chairman, thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stelle may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Penney, you are recognized for your testimony.
STATEMENT OF SAMUEL N. PENNEY, CHAIRMAN, NEZ PERCE TRIBAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Mr. PENNEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Representatives Chenoweth and Crapo.
I would like to thank you for this opportunity on behalf of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the Nez Perce Tribe, and I would like to welcome you to Nez Perce country. The Nez Perce Tribe originally occupied over 13 million acres which included Northeastern Oregon and Southeastern Washington as well as most of North Central Idaho.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would also like to request my comments be submitted for the record.
Mr. Chairman, I would also like to make some comments that are not in my written testimony, and first of all, I think as far as the Treaty reserved rights of the Columbia River Tribes that are involved, that Article VI of the U.S. Constitution I think verifies the rights that the Tribes have reserved.
Our treaties are not between any department, between any agency, or any Bureau. It is with the U.S. Government. And I think the Article VI supports my statement in my written comments.
Mr. Chairman, I would also like to point out, there were three important scientific studies that have been completed in 1996.
One is entitled Return to the River, Restoration of Salmonid Fisheries to the Columbia River Ecosystem, and that's by the Independent Scientific Group submitted to the Northwest Power Planning Council.
There is a salmon decision analysis regarding the lower Snake River feasibility study by Harza Northwest, that was submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers in what they call PATH, Plan for Analysing and Testing Hypotheses, conclusions of the fiscal year 1996 retrospective analysis. And that's conducted by 22 authors, and it was submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
All three of these reports devote significant analysis to the drawdown proposals.
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Mr. Chairman, at this time I would like to submit for the record, what is entitled the Spirit of the Salmon, which is the restoration plan that the Tribes have proposed.
What's interesting about the Spirit of the Salmon, is that the scientific conclusion of those various reports rendered in these studies, support some of the ideas in the Spirit of the Salmon.
And I think all three of the reports that I have referenced conclude that drawdowns of lower Snake River dams would bring the salmon back to these areas.
There was also mentioned earlier, Mr. Chairman, the role of the Northwest Power Planning Council and the other agencies, as mentioned by Mr. Maddock.
But under the Northwest Power Act, it states that these Federal operating and regulating agencies are directed by Congress to exercise their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the purposes of the Act and other applicable laws to provide equitable treatment for fish and wildlife.
And it also states in the purpose of that Act that it must also counter past damage and work toward rebuilding those fish and wildlife populations that have been hampered by the hydro system.
And we also realize, Mr. Chairman, that the Council must develop this program while assuring the Pacific Northwest an adequate, efficient, economical and reliable power source.
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Also, Mr. Chairman, the conclusions as stated in my written testimony regarding the natural river drawdowns of the lower Snake River dams, John Day pool to spillway crests, are critical to, one, greatly increase spawning areas and production potential; No. 2, ensure that adults reach spawning areas by reducing migratory energy demands; and three, reduce temperatures and dissolved gas; four, scientifically increase juvenile travel time and reduce substantial juvenile mortalities through dams.
Mr. Chairman, I think as stated, you know, this should be a regional issue, and we believe that there is a critical need for an inter-governmental decisionmaking process that will protect and restore fish and wildlife, while allowing sustainable use of the river, including power, irrigation and navigation.
I think our main point, Mr. Chairman, is that the status quo that has been going on is totally unacceptable to the Tribes.
We are looking forward to engaging in discussions at the highest level of the goverment- to-government level consultation, and we are encouraged that the states, Federal Government and Tribes are participating in a meeting next week on June 3rd among the sovereigns to discuss beginning to work together to assure fish and wildlife restoration in the face of energy deregulation as mentioned by Congressman Crapo.
So we do believe that this is a complicated issue.
I appreciate having the hearing here to gather information on how we can best address these problems, and can assure you, as well as the others on the panel, that we're committed to fishery restoration.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Penney may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. The members will now have an opportunity to address questions to the panel.
Mr. Maddock, what is the current position of the Northwest Power Planning Council with respect to juvenile fish transportation?
Mr. MADDOCK. We have a plan that was adopted in 1994.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Could you pull that mike a little closer, please?
Mr. MADDOCK. Our plan which was adopted in 1994, but which is currently being amended, so I would have to say that question remains open.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Any ideas which direction the amendment is going to go?
Mr. MADDOCK. Well, clearly it's a matter of learning each year more about the survival that's occurring, both in-river and through transportation.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And that's one of the reasons why the state of Idaho had taken a ''Spread the Risk'' approach, was to gain better understanding and a better comparison scientifically of what the best method would be.
This year may be a critical year as far as understanding more fully just what that comparison is. But we don't have the results this year in fully.
So I would have to say we don't, at this point we wouldn't be able to answer that question until we have more information available.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. And what has been the Northwest Power Planning Council's position on Idaho's ''Spread the Risk'' strategy?
Mr. MADDOCK. I think that's been not something that's been fully endorsed by the Northwest Power Planning Council, but the council members, state of Idaho developed the program and have advanced it through the Executive Committee process, which includeswhich is essentially the Federal agencies and the Northwest Power Planning Council and the tribal interests, that's the existing process under which we've tried to work toward regional consensus.
And that's what we were referring to in our comments, that we didn't find that to be completely implemented by theby that executive committee process.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. You stated that the Governor is not willing to sacrifice the Port of Lewiston.
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Could the Port survive if the permanent drawdown of the four lower Snake River dams is implemented?
Mr. MADDOCK. Any operations of the Snake below minimum operating pool would stop transportation and navigation on the Snake River.
So, drawdowns would eliminate that as an option.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Even if the permanent drawdown of the four lower Snake dams is not adopted, could the Port survive if the John Day Dam is drawn down below the minimum operating pool, the spillway crest, or to natural river level?
Mr. MADDOCK. It's my understanding that there is a reason to believe that that's worththere's additional information needed in order to answer that question.
At one time there was some discussion that there might be possibly the ability to transport with a drawdown on John Day. But that question I think remains open, and undecided.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Gen. Griffin, do you have an opinion on that issue?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Sir, if you go to spillway crest, I believe navigation could continue, although the characteristics of the barges that would be on the river would be different. They couldn't draft as much. Exactly how much, I'm not sure.
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If you carry it alland there would have to be some channel deepening efforts that would have to go along with that, and there would be an associated cost with that.
And so there would be a definite economic cost, mitigation cost, if you will, if you tried to continue navigation and spillway crest.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. How many miles of deepening efforts would be required, do you believe?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Sir, I'm uncertain of that. I would not be able to answer that.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. All right. Well, let me go back to Mr. Maddock.
Do you think that the studies currently underway will provide significant new data to the policymakers who are scheduled to make important decisions on river operations in 1999?
Mr. MADDOCK. Oh, I think they definitely will.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Do you think the questions about what is effective and isn't effective will be resolved by the time that study comes out?
Mr. MADDOCK. I can't attest that all that information will be clear to us by that time, but we certainly will know a lot more, and I think will be able to make better decisions, based on what we're currently doing today.
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Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK.
Gen. GRIFFIN. Sir?
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Yes. General.
Gen. GRIFFIN. In answer to your question, the river miles that would be affected by spillway crest would be 20 to 25 miles.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. So we would need to have that amount of dredging, then, to allow for the navigation?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Yes, sir, some amount in there. And depending on whether it's hard pan or loose material, the cost could be high.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. Thank you.
Let me just indicate to the members, I think we will probably do two rounds of questioning, so let me recognize Mrs. Chenoweth at this point.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Maddock, I'm very interested in both your comment and my colleague's comments, Mr. Crapo, about having a regional power governance authority.
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For the record, how does that relate to what is already in place in the flow augmentation?
Mr. MADDOCK. Mr. Chairman, and Congressman Chenoweth, the Northwest Power Planning Council is only one forum that is addressing regional issues. There has been, sincewell, in the last 2 years, an Executive Committee approach that brought all of the Federal agencies together, and was nominally chaired by NMFS, and so that is a parallel process to the Northwest Power Planning Council.
And of course some of the operating agencies have previously had the system operations review which joined together the three major Federal agencies as well.
So there are a variety of groups that are currently looking at river management decisions right now due to the ESA, NMFS and the Executive Committee decision approach have apparently the most, strongest legal position in order to do this.
But that's the one that was referred to in my comments, were Montana and the lower Tribes have indicated that they no longer want to participate in that process.
So we have a rather fragile and multifaceted system right now. We really need to find a way to bring that all together.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Maddock, could you explain for me how the parallel organization that you referred to, parallel to your organization, has a stronger legal position?
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Mr. MADDOCK. Well, I say that, and that's speculation on my part, but to the extent that the ESA hasis the authority under which NMFS is looking, developing their recovery plan, that is the legal authority for the Executive Committee approach. And it's one that does bring the various agencies together, including the Northwest Power Planning Council.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Maddock.
Gen. Griffin, welcome to Idaho.
Gen. GRIFFIN. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I hope you enjoy your new huge responsibility, half the country. My goodness.
You mentioned in your testimony, I'm not sure that you read this part, that the Corps has eight major dams on the Columbia. And those lower Columbia dams that we're involved with here that help provide for our Port, slack water for our Port, are the Ice Harbor Dam, Lower Monumental Dam, Little Goose and the Lower Granite Dams.
In my opening statement I made mention of three feasibilitythree options in your feasibility study. And that the first two had been determined not to be feasible to go ahead and study, and that's contained in your testimony in paragraph 2 on page 2, isn't that correct.
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Gen. GRIFFIN. Yes, ma'am. For drawdown options, the only drawdown option that is feasible is to natural river level. But there are other options in the study that we're looking at, which is current condition and improved condition.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. But those were determined not to be part of this study.
Gen. GRIFFIN. No, ma'am, they are being evaluated as alternatives to drawing down the reservoirs.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Right. OK. I see that my light is on, Mr. Chairman, and I had another question that I wanted to ask the General.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Just go ahead and ask. As long as it is yellow.
Gen. GRIFFIN. I will just have to answer fast.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. General, on page 3, top of page 4, you indicate that the impacts of natural river drawdowns on the lower Snake river water and power users, your testimony goes through the impacts on fish passage, on irrigation, 1991 inventory, identified a total of 31 withdrawal facilities on the four lower Snake projects, on navigation you said, at the top of page 4, and I don't believe this was testified to, but all commercial navigation on the lower Snake River from its confluence with the Columbia River to Lewiston, Idaho, will be eliminated.
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Gen. GRIFFIN. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Isn't that correct?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will yield.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. All right. Thank you.
Mr. Crapo, you are recognized.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to go first to Mr. Stelle. Surprise?
In your testimony you pretty well described some of the competing approaches to how we will protect the salmon and steelhead.
Could you compare for me the relative need for flow augmentation from storage water in Idaho between the two approaches that you discussed?
Mr. STELLE. Yes. First of all, let me describe the function of flow augmentation.
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Mr. CRAPO. Sure.
Mr. STELLE. The function of flow augmentation under the current operations is two fold, one of which is to try to operate this system the way we have it in as most fish friendly way as possible in order to best evaluate what kind of improvements in salmon survivals can we milk out of this system as it is currently configured.
Based upon that, and based upon some general information that flows help fish, we identified in the biological opinion some general ranges of good flows that we believe represent good conditions for migrating fish. And we have recommended to the Corps and Bureau that they pursue those flow objectives in the operation of the system itself.
We are also then paralleling this operation with some very specific monitoring efforts on what are fish survivals in each of the pools in each of the projects as we go down the river, for the entire year, year by year.
And as we implement this operation, we will get very specific, very hard data on what the fish are doing under a full range of environmental conditions that we experience over this four or 5 year period.
The purpose of flow augmentation is to try to improve in-river migration conditions as best we know how now so that we can also measure it and see whether or not we can tease out any specific hard data, correlating fish survivals with flows.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CRAPO. But as between the two competing approaches as to how to best help the fish, in whichwhat's the comparative need for flow augmentation?
Mr. STELLE. To improve in-river conditions for in-river migrants.
Mr. CRAPO. Meaning that the in-river approach would require more flow augmentation?
Mr. STELLE. Meaning that in order to maximize the survivals of in-river migrants, we want to try to provide good water for those fish, yes.
Mr. CRAPO. When you say good water, what are you talking about?
Mr. STELLE. The flow objectives that we stipulate for spring, summer Chinook, there are two sets of them, one for the Snake system, one for the Columbia, and, Dave, you may need to help me on this, but I think the Snake River flow objectives are around a hundred kcfs for springtime; for spring Columbia River, it's around 200, from 200 to 240, or something like that.
Mr. CRAPO. So are you saying that the natural river option would require increased flow augmentation?
Mr. STELLE. The natural river option may or may not. It depends.
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First of all, the natural hydrograph of the Snake, how did this river used to work before we built the Hells Canyon complex, before we built the big project, the Bureau projects, before we built the Corps lower Snake dams.
Well, the hydrograph, the way this river used to run, were big powerful flows in the springtime that would taper off in the summer.
And you know this very well, I know, Congressman.
Under a natural river drawdown scenario, though, it is, and, again, I am estimating here, flow augmentation in the springtime may not be necessary, depending on how the Hells Canyon complex is operated. If it holds all the water back in the springtime, fish won't do well.
So we are still going to have to have contributions in the springtime and for spring, summer migrants, given the fact that we have the ability to control those upstream resources.
Mr. CRAPO. Would dam modifications of various typesWhat I am talking about is the alternatives, looking at using the status quo and then improving it, would dam modifications of various types and other types of improvements increase or reduce the need for flow augmentation?
Mr. STELLE. My guess at this stage, Congressman, is reduce.
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Mr. CRAPO. Would you tell me exactly what the
Mr. STELLE. And that applies both from the upper Snake and the upper Columbia.
Mr. CRAPO. Could you tell me, when we talk about new and improved transportation packages, to try to improve the current system but keep it operational, what are we talking about there?
Mr. STELLE. Improving the ability to collect the little fish at the dams, first and foremost.
Second, improving the ability of the big fish to get back home.
Mr. CRAPO. And those general categories you are talking about there, if implemented properly, you believe will reduce the need for flow augmentation?
Mr. STELLE. ThoseImproving our ability to collect fish will maximize the benefits, if there are benefits, to the transportation system because more fish will be transported, less fish will be left in the river to go through the turbines and die.
So the ability tothe improved ability to collect fish doesn't necessarily tell you whether or not you will barge them or bypass them back into the river. It simply means that you will reduce the number of fish going through the turbines.
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And fundamentally, if you are a little fish, you don't want to go through those turbines.
So the improved collections still leaves open the issue of whether you want to barge them or do you have a healthy enough river environment that you want to put them back in the river.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. I see my time has expired. I will followup on the next round, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. Mr. Stelle, you referred to sticking to the best science, in your testimony.
Does the best current science show higher rates of survival for out-migrating juveniles that are in in-river or those that are transported?
Mr. STELLE. Those that are transported.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. All right.
Mr. STELLE. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Yes.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. I could describe to you the basis of that conclusion, if you would like. I would simply note that there are very powerful empirical studies underway now whereby we are getting very accurate information about what's going on in the system with the fish.
And we are getting early returns this year to answer the question, who does better, and the data right now will be in this year and next year, and basically we are seeing about a two to one benefit for those that migrate downstream in the barges.
You will lose 50 percent of the fish in the river, based on what we know, if you leave them in the river.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, how will this be improved if transportation is eliminated and if permanent drawdown is implemented?
Mr. STELLE. It wouldn't. It would eliminate the transportation option. Two questions.
First of all, what kind of survival benefits can we get from the transportation system? And how do they compare to the survival benefits we can secure through improved in-river migrations?
One is a comparative question, and then the larger, more fundamental question is, are either survival benefits enough to recover and restore these stocks. That is basically the analytical approach we are undertaking now.
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If the decision of the region is to go with the natural river drawdown because it provides a higher probability of restoration over the long-term, then it basically eliminates the transportation option. It's a decision that we won't go that pathway.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Do you have a sense in your own mind of which is the more likely beneficial alternative?
Mr. STELLE. I think that most credible fishery scientists would say that if the simple question you pose is what is the best long-term restoration strategy, regardless of other circumstances, they would probably recommend natural river drawdown.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. There's an Oregonian article, I have a copy of it here.
Mr. STELLE. There are lots of them.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Let's see. Do I have a date on this one? The 17th, I believe, is the date, May 17th.
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Which states that NMFS has directed the Corps to develop a list of all those holding permits to withdraw water from the system, to rank them by the degree by which permit hurts salmon.
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Is that indeed what NMFS has done?
Mr. STELLE. Yes. Mr. Chairman, what we did is advise the Corps that continued issuance of water withdrawal permits in the system without regard to the cumulative impacts of those continuing withdrawals is no longer a good idea.
We are recommending that we do what every good farmer does, and that is that recognize that there are limits in this system, that if we are working hard, like Idaho is, to put more water in the system, it makes no sense to turn right around and take it right out again.
So the policy that we have recommended to the Corps is in essence a no net loss policy.
Water, new irrigation withdrawals would be permissible, but only if they are offset so that we don't further dig ourselves into a hole.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Was this policy intended to apply to the existing water rights holders or just to the new ones?
Mr. STELLE. It is intended not to apply retroactively to the existing 404 permit holders.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. For dredging, let's suppose they do this dredge, does that take a 404 permit?
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Mr. STELLE. I think that if it's a Corps project, it doesn't technically require a 404 permit. But it is the same equivalent analysis of pros and cons under the National Environmental Policy Act for dredging operations.
Typically the Corps doesn't permit itself, though.
Gen. GRIFFIN. Sir, we have to go through the process, we will still go to the various state and Federal agencies.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Now, we have had some problems with being able to do dredging in the San Joaquin River, which is not in your jurisdiction, I take it, but
Gen. GRIFFIN. No, sir, it isn't. I have a large area, but not that big.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. And I think the contention was, because when the dredge pulls up the material and water spills over the side, you are putting water back into the river, and that somehow violates somebody's regulation.
Do you know anything about that?
Gen. GRIFFIN. No, sir.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLITTLE. How about you, Mr. Stelle?
Gen. GRIFFIN. I know you have to get a water quality certification from the state. It sounds like that is what it is tied up into.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. You would think if it came out of the river, if it spilled over the side, went back in, it wouldn't be a problem.
Gen. GRIFFIN. No, unless there was a certain amount of turbidity that is happening, or there could be a fish and wildlife impact. They may have an endangered species there that is in jeopardy because of the turbidity of the water.
There are a number of things that you get into when you try to permit. But we really have a good relationship here in the Pacific Northwest.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, it is perhaps not as rosy a situation in California. Which is why all of these people should be concerned, because as bizarre as some of these ideas seem, it is entirely possible that they could come to pass.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gen. Griffin, I wanted to return to questioning you. At the end of your statement, didn't you say that there would be no dams breached? Did I understand that correctly?
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Gen. GRIFFIN. Ma'am, what I had said was we are undergoing a study. As part of the biological opinion, we have been charged with doing a study for long-term improvements of the system for salmon.
Now, one of the options then is a removal of the dam, to go to natural river condition.
What I said was, I am authorized by Congress, the Corps is authorized to operate our projects right now for multiple purposes; recreation, hydropower, navigation, flood control, municipal and industrial water, and a few others. Fish and wildlife, of course, and that's why we're here.
But if we were to alter those purposes, given Congress' authorization to the Corps to operate these in such a way and to provide money, funds to operate them in such a way, if we determined through a study process, that we would cease to operate those projects that way, we must go back to Congress to seek reauthorization.
And in this case, we would do the feasibility report, and if there was a decision or recommendation were to go to natural river condition, and therefore bypass the dams, then we would provide a Chief's Report to the Congress requesting both authority and funding to proceed.
And my point there, ma'am, was we just simply couldn't make this decision and the Corps could go off and do it.
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Mrs. CHENOWETH. I appreciate you're saying that without the reauthorization of Congress, regarding your specific duties, it can't be done.
I just wondered, have you seen your Section 5, Interim Status Report, by chance, or has anyone briefed you on this?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Is this the Harza report?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. No. It is an internal report. It wasn't sent to me. I got it off the Internet.
Gen. GRIFFIN. I have not seen that report, per se. I could be familiar with the data in it.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. It does talk about the permanent natural river scenario from all the other drawdown scenarios, structural modifications are undertaken at the dams, allowing reservoirs to be drained and resulting in a free-flowing river that would remain unimpounded. This is in paragraph number 2.
It goes on to say, for flows of 20,000 cubic feet per second, the total drawdown below normal maximum pool levels would be approximately 150 feet at Lower Granite, 114 feet at Little Goose, 108 feet at Lower Monumental, and 97 feet at Ice Harbor.
It goes on to say the permanent natural river option would remove the earthen embankment section at Lower Granite and Little Goose and form a channel around Lower Monumental and Ice Harbor Dams.
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Your report goes on to say, it would be necessary to develop an appropriate channel around the powerhouses, spillways and navigation locks and install protection measures at these remaining structures.
Another report we pulled off the Internet, Section 7 of your Interim Status Report, indicates permanent natural river drawdown has the greatest estimated benefits for juvenile salmon in the lower Snake River, based on salmon passage model results, and elimination of reservoir and dam passage mortality once in operation.
So it looks like a foregone conclusion. It would be completelyit would completely eliminate power production in the lower Snake River and commercial navigation between Lewiston, Idaho, and Pasco, Washington.
And then finally, your recommendation here, the Corps' recommendation, is based on estimated biological benefits, other environmental effects and regional acceptance, the permanent natural river option is the only drawdown alternative recommended for further study.
Gen. GRIFFIN. Yes, ma'am. Well, of the drawdown options, it is the only one we would look at.
Originally, when we started the study, we could go to a mid-level drawdown or spillway crest drawdown.
So of the drawdown options, there is only one natural river option; current condition, you always look at; and the current condition with the surface bypass, which holds a lot of promise. I will echo what Mr. Stelle said, is for the good of the salmon, to the exclusion of hydropower and all other purposes, if we were just doing this for the salmon, probably the best thing is to remove the dams.
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Mrs. CHENOWETH. Has the Congress authorized you to invest your time and energy and intelligence of this great Corps of Engineers to even investigate this? Have they funded it?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Yes, ma'am. We are funded to do the study to execute part of the biological opinion.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I don't think so.
Gen. GRIFFIN. That is just one
Mrs. CHENOWETH. This is something we are working on.
Gen. GRIFFIN. I will say that of the drawdown options, the mid drawdown or spillway crest, the impacts far exceed the benefits. And we all agree to that.
And so in our recon report, or interim report, we looked at a number of options, and now as we go into the feasibility report, we eliminated all but these three options, which is natural river drawdown, with no intermediate look, because the benefits and costs are just simply not worth the benefits to the fish, the cost to the system, and therefore we are looking at one drawdown option and that's natural river, and then the current condition, and the improved condition, which would be surface bypass, gas abatement measures, and other measures that would make the system more fish friendly.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. You are looking at, according to Section 5 of your Interim Status Report at drawdowns at four dams that I just mentioned, right? Not just one?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Yes, ma'am. It would be all four.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. In fact, in the testimony that you didn't read, the very last sentence, ''Preliminary returns from the 1995 groups, which should be viewed with great caution at this time, show transported fish returning at nearly twice the rate of in-river fish.''
That seems to contradict your oral testimony, and I wanted to give you a chance to explain that.
Mr. STELLE. My apologies. I hope that I was in fact intending to say just that.
The returns that we have now from the larger transportation evaluation begun in 1995, we've got that year class, about 30 percent of those fish are back now, we expect about 70 percent will come back next year. And that's why you have to be cautious about drawing any conclusions.
But basically, we're getting I think as of last week, the reading was about a 2.6 to one transport benefit for wild fish and about 1.9 to one for hatchery fish.
So it pencils out to at least a two to one benefit for transportation. That is what I was intending to say. Thank you. I apologize for being obscure.
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Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Stelle, you have also testified, or indicated on page 3 of your written testimony that you are formulating as a third part of your strategy, in order to refine analytical tools available for estimating results that you can expect,
Mr. STELLE. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. You have put together a working group called the Plan for Analysing and Testing Hypothesis, otherwise known as PATH.
Mr. STELLE. Yes. You are welcome to join, if you want, but I advise against it.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. No. I would like to.
Mr. STELLE. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. This process includes the best analytical minds the region has to offer. It is ably and independently facilitated to ensure objectivity and improve effectiveness and objectivity.
How is this financed?
Mr. STELLE. Bonneville Power. May I explain a little bit
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Mrs. CHENOWETH. Sure.
Mr. STELLE. [continuing] what this group is trying to do?
Mrs. CHENOWETH. While you explain, let me just finish my question.
Mr. STELLE. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I would like to know what the peer review process is, who is on the peer review panel that will be appointed by you and the Northwest Power Planning Council, and who is on the independent scientific advisory board appointed by you. All right?
Mr. STELLE. Yes. Basically, this group has two principal functions. We will over the next, over the past couple years and over the next 3 years, as I mentioned, generate some very powerful information that adds to the suite of hard data we have on what happens to fish in this system.
The difficulty with that is that that data will describe what happened to fish under a certain set of environmental conditions over the years that the data was generated. But it will probably not represent the full range of environmental conditions that these populations will experience over time.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we take that hard data on what did happen, but then we need to develop the ability to project what will happen under a broader suite of environmental conditions.
And one of the fundamental objectives of this group is to develop a scientifically sound modeling system to be able to give us those projections of what will happen over time. And by over time, I mean over 25, 50 and a hundred year period, in order to better enable the region to answer the question under each particular option, what do we project will be the outcomes for the fish as well as for others.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So the peer review process is simply reviewing the work.
Mr. STELLE. Yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And not the decisions.
Mr. STELLE. No, ma'am. The peer review process is intended to allow people who weren't involved in developing the model and the projections, and who are not sort of bought into it and who are highly credible scientists, to take a look and say, does this hold up, does it hold water, does it make sense.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Chairman, I just have one more question, if I might ask your indulgence.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Sure.
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Mrs. CHENOWETH. Now, you operate, and the river apparently is being governed by the biological opinion that the National Marine Fisheries Service issued in 1995, correct?
Mr. STELLE. Technically, it's being governed by the Record of Decision of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, which was based on the recommendation by NMFS. But, yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. But you do go on to say in your testimony on page 6 that with regards to the potential benefits of drawdown, and you are talking here about the John Day drawdown
Mr. STELLE. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. You go on to say that these potential additional benefits would be expected to approve to species other than the listed Snake River Chinook and Sockeye is that are the basis of the NMFS opinion, and then you go on to say, they are also dependent upon a drawdown much deeper to natural river bed than the near-term drawdown to the minimum operating pool required by the biological opinion.
So the study, the natural river drawdown, even exceeds your own biological opinion, is that not correct?
Mr. STELLE. The issue goes to, as I understand, goes to what type of drawdown appears to make the most sense to take a look at, and what stocks of fish are most likely to benefit from either of those options.
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The 1995 biological opinion in an effort to remain consistent with the plan of the Northwest Power Planning Council did recommend to the Corps a MOP operation at John Day if appropriate mitigation measures were made for the irrigators pulling water out of the John Day pool. That has not occurred.
Subsequent to that recommendation, the Federal, state and tribal fishery agencies, looking further at that, and based on the information of the Return to the River report, decided to recommend to the Corps that it suspend further specific evaluation of that MOP operation because it was too marginal, and that it look at the two more significant drawdown options, namely, spillway crest, or natural river.
That was I believe as close to a consensus recommendation to the Corps as I am aware of here, that it didn't make much sense to put a lot of effort into the little incremental benefits of a MOP. If you are going to do this, look at either spillway crest or natural river.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Crapo?
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Stelle, I'm going to come back to you, but hopefully just briefly, and I just wanted to wrap up the question that I was asking on flow augmentation a minute ago. Maybe I could get to what I was seeking in this way.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Under the status quo, we have flow augmentation coming from Dworshak and Brownlee and the upper Snake, basically.
The 427,000 acre-foot figure from the upper Snake I guess you could call status quo.
If we were to look to a year-round natural river option, would the flow augmentation require it be higher or lower than status quo, in your opinion?
Mr. STELLE. As a general matter, and I want to be careful here, Congressman, to not go beyond what I know, as a general matter I think that the need for flow augmentation is, as a general matter, decreased where you have a natural river option and a run of the river habitat.
Mr. CRAPO. I understand. And the reverse question would be, if we went instead to the improved transportation system approach, would, in general, the need for flow augmentation be increased or decreased?
Mr. STELLE. Unless theIf the decision of the region was to maximize transportation 100 percent, and that we were able to collect all of the little fish and barge them around the system, then you could theoretically say you don't need good water in the river.
I don't think we're going to be there, and my expectation is that we will continue to try to improve in-river conditions, including good water for fish.
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Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. And I want to go to you with one more question, but Gen. Griffin, I am going to come to you on this issue, as well. So you could be prepared.
Gen. GRIFFIN. Yes.
Mr. CRAPO. You indicate in your answers to my first round of questions that the surface collection devices did not pre-determine whether we would be putting fish, once they were past the dams, in-river or in the river or in the barges.
There are those who have indicated that from what they can see, the development of the surface collection devices are indeed being designed to benefit the transportation system rather than leaving the choice open.
And I know Gen. Griffin is going to have an opportunity to answer this. But could you tell me that the efforts to collect, identify ways to get fish past the dams is not being manipulated or managed in a way to bias the decision there one way or the other?
Mr. STELLE. My understanding, Congressman, is that the surface collective prototype that is being currently installed and being improved at Lower Granite, the upper dam, is specifically designed to shunt fish into the bypass system, which in turn can enable you to send them over the spillway or send them into the barges and the bypass system, one way or the other.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So it's designed to leave open both options.
Mr. CRAPO. Gen. Griffin, do you want to respond to that?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Sir, I would say it is a two-part exercise.
The first exercise is with surface collection, if you can collect the majority of the fish, and be successful there, that is one part of the exercise, then you check them.
And then you have a second decision, you can either put them back in the river, allowing easy bypass through of the dam, or you can put them in a barge. So you collect them, and then what you do with them after that is the best decision of do you barge or do you do in-river transportation.
Mr. CRAPO. Are any funds being expended in other areas, other than the surface collector funds, are any of the funds for improvement of the facilities or expansion of the facilities in the system being expended for in-river migration purposes or for increased transportation purposes?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Well, sir, we are expending funds to do extended length screens, and there again, it's to catch fish, and once you catch them, you check them, and then you can still barge them or put them back in the river.
We are definitely spending money on extended length screens and we are also looking at gas abatement measures, which are the flip lips, and we are also doing a lot of work in that area.
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Mr. CRAPO. All right. Thank you.
Let me go into another area, and I am going to ask a question here which might be a little bit, a little fun at your expense, but I hope that you can understand, I'm talking to all of you, I'm hoping that you can understand where I'm coming from when I ask the question.
The question is, who's in charge? And I think you can see where I'm coming from.
Mr. STELLE. I think I can answer that with a high degree of specificity, if the issue is who is operating the Federal hydropower system. Is that what you're asking? Who's in charge of the Federal hydropower system?
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Mr. CRAPO. I thought that would be the answer for that part of it.
Who is in charge of the decision regarding salmon and steelhead recovery issues?
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. STELLE. Insofar as it relates to recommending to, for instance, the Corps of Engineers how to operate the system, for salmon restoration, National Marine Fisheries Service is responsible for formulating those recommendations. And there is a presumption that the Corps will adhere to those recommendations.
Mr. CRAPO. OK. And who's in charge of, I assume that the General's going to claim there is one, who's in charge of flood control?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Nobody wants that but me, sir.
Mr. CRAPO. OK. So if I am concerned about a decision that's being made on how the system is being operated for power production, and I go to you, General, and can you tell me that the buck stops at your desk?
Gen. GRIFFIN. On power production, sir, we haveWell, it's a fairly complicated system.
Mr. CRAPO. I thought it would be.
Gen. GRIFFIN. We have meetings every week where we balance the multi-purpose project purposes which are navigation, fish and wildlife, which is the salmon recovery, and hydropower; those are the big three, but also we're trying to take care of irrigation.
All of that is balanced in the Division. And we do this week to week, in a weekly TMT, technical management team that meets, and decides these things.
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And so, you know, in fact we're the ones who are making those decisions.
Mr. CRAPO. Does anybody else want to jump in and claim a piece of this?
Mr. ROBERTSON. I guess I will. I just will put it this way: The Federal Columbia River power system is run both by the Corps of Engineers and by the Bureau of Reclamation, depending on which dam is involved.
The system is being integrated across four states and an International boundary. Bonneville has responsibility, once the environmental sideboards, once the flood control sideboards are put on the river. In other words, we meet biological opinion objectives, we meet flood control objectives and so on, then Bonneville has an obligation to try to integrate the river to its most beneficial use.
So once those sideboards are put on, we integrate across Federal Corps and Bureau responsibilities and NMFS responsibilities and try to maximize the river's values.
Mr. CRAPO. But to give you an example of what I am driving at here, I understand the answers that have been given with regard to the hydropower system, the answers that have been given with regard to the Endangered Species Act and so forth and with regard to power management, but it seems to me that those issues are very integrally tied together, and the decision regarding hydropower impacts the fish, and a decision regarding fish impacts the hydropower, and that one of the problems we have in the system, we've got the Northwest Power Planning Council, we've got the states, the Tribes, the Corps of Engineers, the BPA, NMFS, and I haven't listed others.
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One of the problems we have is that we never seem to know where the buck stops. And I asked the General earlier this week in a private conversation, when you get to 1999, and you issue the decision that will be made at that point in time, what if NMFS disagrees with your decision? And I think the point is, we have a problem here, don't we?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Well, sir, in our conversation, we talked about coming to an agreement, because there will be an Administration position. Even if we disagree at our level, I believe I said that with the Administration, we will come up with a position, because that's who we work for. And then that decision will be, or that recommendation will be made to the Congress, who then will either authorize and appropriate money, or not.
Mr. CRAPO. OK. I know my time is up, so please be quick, Mr. Stelle, if you want to respond to that.
Mr. STELLE. I will be very quick. Any long time salmon restoration strategy, if it is going to be successful, has to be implemented, and if it's going to get implemented, it will only get implemented if it has the support of the Pacific Northwest. And I think we fully recognize that.
The Tribes have to be a part of it. The states have to be a part it. The regional leadership has to be a part of a decision on what the long-term vision is for the Columbia and Snake River systems.
So this is notthis is not and will not be some simplistic decisionmaking behind closed doors. This will be an entirely public, open process, and in my view, the tribal leadership and the state leadership must be involved in making choices with the Administration on where we go for the long-term.
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Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, could I ask one followup question on that point? I can't resist.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Certainly.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. Stelle, I understand what you just said.
The fact, however, is, and I understand your earlier answer that NMFS is basically the controlling agency with regard to the fish and wildlife issues, Endangered Species Act, and so forth.
The fact is, the state of Montana is not happy with the way NMFS is handling this and has moved out of that process, and so have a number of the Tribes. In the testimony today, from the Governor of the state of Idaho, there was serious disagreement and dissatisfaction expressed with the way that NMFS is managing that process.
I have some concerns myself, not only there, but with regard to other areas in dealing with NMFS and some of the other Federal agencies in terms of managing other environmental issues.
I guess the question I have is, is NMFS, in this case, properly, is NMFS truly and in good faith approaching the issue of bringing everybody together for a collaborative decision, or is that something where we are just inviting people to the table and then making other decisions and moving ahead with it?
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Mr. STELLE. Absolutely the former. Absolutely the former. The entire array of activities that we and the other Federal agencies are undertaking to implement the salmon recovery program are completely open and participatory.
Decisions get changed, issues get reshaped because of the participation of the tribal and state members. We have distributed to the Federal, the Federal Government has distributed to the states and the Tribes in this region a set of proposals on how to improve that inter-governmental machinery. And if the Tribes or the states have ideas on how to make it better, we are all ears. I think that a volunteer invitational effort is essential here.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. I see that I have done away with my time.
Gen. GRIFFIN. Sir, if I may indulge, one comment I need to leave you with, the way the Corps operates this system, there is an operating plan and there are rule curves, depending upon flows, and all of this has been worked out.
I didn't want to leave the impression that this system is operated in a capricious manner. But that there are very strict rules of engagement, if you will, these operating plans, that have been worked out for all the multi-purpose projects, so that navigation, flood control, hydropower all are balanced.
Sort of like raising kids, you never want to say one is more important than the other, and this operating plan, then, is how we do our business.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so there are rules that folks understand that we can't vary the levels more on a certain day than are required by these curves.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. And thank you for your indulgence, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Gen. Griffin, your testimony states that, quote, what cannot be determined with high confidence at this point is the expected increased survival for both juveniles and adults out of the Snake River from the permanent lower Snake drawdown, and what contribution this would make to the overall salmon recovery effort, end of quote.
You then go on to say that the analysis and national feasibility study, meaning their 1999 report, right, should provide additional information but not a definitive answer.
And my question to you is, are you really saying that we're kind of playing tag at these dams, ending power production and commercial navigation, devastating this region, when all we will have at that time is something less than a definitive answer?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Well, sir, on that issue there, the amount of information we're gaining now is exponentially increased by some of the surveys and these pit tags that we have and radio controls, transmitters that we are able to put into fish.
The information that we are gathering now is so much better than 2 years ago. That's why Mr. Stelle is able to say with a great degree of confidence, our returns out of the barges now is two to one over what we are putting in the river because of these tags we are able to put into fish.
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But, sir, I will tell you, I believe that in 2 years, we are going to lean very heavily on the National Marine Fisheries Service and the PATH team that we discussed to determine the best benefits that removal of the dams would give.
But our belief is, sir, I don't think you will ever say absolutely what's going to happen with the fish if anybody says that, I don't know how they could say that. We will have the best science, we will put up the best science we can for the benefits, versus the cost.
The costs, sir, are very easy, relative to determining the benefits, the economic impacts will be easier to determine than the benefits. And that is what the study does. It lays out the costs and the benefits to the best of our ability.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. What Mr. Stelle is talking about is developing a model, making projections. In other words, it won't be based on the hard evidence. It will be based on what evidence there is, best available data, which by the way is bad data, as to what it may be in the future and projecting it out he said even to a hundred years.
I mean, this is highly speculative, is it not?
Mr. STELLE. Two things, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I think some of the hard data that the General is referencing is not speculative at all. It's as solid as a rock.
Having said that, again, those data will have been generated over the environmental conditions which we havewill have experienced in a 10 or 20 year period.
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We are talking long-term salmonid restoration for this system over time, and we will therefore necessarily have to develop a better ability to project. You will not have all the answers and you will not have all of the data governing all of the conditions.
So you use both the hard information you have, which may be very high quality information, and your best ability to project and extrapolate from that hard data. It's an absolutely conventional scientific process.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Gentlemen, taking off your hats, as these important officials that you are, and just being citizens, and thinking this through, does it trouble you that you would devastate a community in order to attempt to improve the population of salmon? Does that bother you at all? That you put agriculture out of business, commercial navigation and so forth out of business, just on the belief that you're going to do something to improve the fishery?
I am troubled by that. I would like to know if that bothers you, just as citizens of this great country. Or is the goal so worthwhile that it doesn't matter what the cost is?
I mean, Bonneville Power is going to lose, it looks like, almost 45 percent of its power generation, if I understood your testimony right, if they do John Day and these four Snake River dams. Is that right?
Mr. ROBERTSON. About 25 percent.
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Mr. DOOLITTLE. 25 percent. All right. You are already 10 to 20 percent over market value in your power prices, and then you are going to take a 25 percent hit here, as well as the cost of mothballing.
That can't improve your competitive position vis-a-vis the other areas.
And certainly we buy your power down in California. I assume we will have a harder time doing that if these ideas go through.
All right. Let's hear your answer.
Mr. STELLE. I would like to go back to what I think Mrs. Chenoweth spoke to earlier in her opening statement.
I don't think anybody is proposing that these are black and white, either/or propositions. Nor do I think that the issue before the Pacific Northwest is do you want agriculture or do you want salmon restoration.
I am utterly convinced that we can and should have both. And the issue fundamentally for the region, I believe, is what are our best options to secure those long-term goals. It is not either agriculture or salmon. It has to be both. And it can be both.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. And by the way, I know Mr. Stelle, you've got to leave to make that plane. So, please go when that time comesand that may by here right now.
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Mr. STELLE. That was about 10 minutes ago.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you members of the panel.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. If there is anyone else that has that pressure, we will just have to let you go, too. Thank you.
Well, Mr. Stelle indicated that we've got to have both, but if you do the natural drawdown, we're not going to have both, as I understand it. We're not going to have power generated from these mothballed facilities, and we are not going to have commercial navigation.
If you told me that we are going to shut down the Port of Sacramento or the Port of Stockton, which are similar to this one, only a lot closer to the ocean than this one is, that would be absolutely unthinkable and intolerable, and anyone who suggested it would be totally rejected.
But apparently it's being seriously considered here. So let me have your reaction, General.
Gen. GRIFFIN. The data we come up with must be biologically sound to come up with a recommendation to mitigate whatever costs there are for tearing out the dams. You know, if it is a billion or 2 billion, if the benefits do not outweigh the costs, then we're not going to recommend that you go to natural river conditions.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLITTLE. How could the benefits possibly outweigh the cost?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Sir, that's what the study is going to determine.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. It doesn't take a study for me to know the answer to that. Why does it take a study for us to know the answer to that?
It says right here, based on estimated biological benefits cost, other environmental effects, and regional acceptance, the permanent national river option is the only drawdown alternative recommended for further study.
Now, I recognize that was your choice of the three drawdowns. But, this seems to be capturing people's imagination, developing a life of its own. I mean, there are other proposals, according to your testimony, for dealing with this than a drawdown.
Gen. GRIFFIN. Absolutely. Sir, there are three alternatives that we are looking at. Current condition, current condition with improvement, which is the surface bypass and other things that may get you to where you want to be, where you can recover these endangered stocks.
If that does it, then that's going to be the cheaper alternative and that will be the recommendation. I mean, so I'm sorry that happened, but I do understand the confusion.
Of the drawdown options that we were looking at, the sole option to be looking at of the three that we are looking at is natural river drawdown.
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Mr. DOOLITTLE. I didn't get an answer from you. Mr. Stelle gave me an opinion about this. Give me your opinion as a citizen. You are in the middle of all of this mess with all of these regulations, you see how absurd this situation is. What's your impression as a citizen? I mean, how do you feel about this?
Gen. GRIFFIN. Sir, if we are to recover these endangered species, I don't know that you necessarily can say that you only do it for 500 million or a billion or two billion. That's something that the region is going to have to decide as we go through this.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. If they get a chance, although the Endangered Species Act doesn't allow taking into account economic impact. So the sky's the limit. Tear down all the dams, restore it to the way it was before Columbus landed. And in the opinion of many, apparently who have influence in this area, that is where they would like to get. That is not where I would like to get. Yes, sir?
Mr. PENNEY. Mr. Chairman, I guess back to the earlier question from Congressman Crapo, regarding where the buck stops, I think the Federal Government, the Tribes and the states need to work more effectively, and that's why I stated in my opening comment, the Federal departments, bureaus, they are all under the umbrella of the Federal Government.
Where we have a lot of problems is when some of the laws state that there will be consultation with the Tribes, which there is from time to time, but yet our input is not seriously considered in the end product. That is where we have a lot of the problems.
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To answer your question, as Chairman of our Tribe and as an individual tribal member, I think it is important to the tribe, and I think the honor and integrity of the U.S. Government is at stake, because they reserved that fishing right for the Tribes, and it is very important to the Tribe, we would expect the United States to uphold their obligation and trust responsibilities to the tribes.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I wish time permitted to further go on, but we have two more panels, a total of seven witnesses, and we are trying to be done in an hour.
So unless my colleagues feel extremelyand of course it is up to you, you are entitled to ask more questions, because I am on a third round. But we may end up staying here longer.
Mr. CRAPO. No more questions for me.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Chairman, I just have one.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I just have one of the General.
In your testimony, General, on page 2, you do list those three options that you were talking to the Chairman about.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Gen. GRIFFIN. Yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. But you do admit that on page 2 of your testimony, the first two options are no longer an option, and you deal only with the third option, which is the permanent natural river drawdown. So
Gen. GRIFFIN. I would
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I will read your statement to you.
Gen. GRIFFIN. Actually, I have it.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Your statement says it was determined that further study of mid-level drawdowns, which was the first option, was not warranted since extensive fish passage system and other dam modification would be needed at a cost of over $1 billion in 10 years' time, and evaluations indicate that salmon survival would not be as high as undercurrent conditions.
Now, your second option, further study of seasonal natural river drawdown was dropped due to the high cost and considerable detrimental environmental and cultural impacts.
Then the next section in your testimony goes to impacts of natural river drawdowns as at the Corps of Engineers.
So this whole testimony, or what you have presented to me, plus the studies that I presented, only deal with the one option that you're looking at.
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Gen. GRIFFIN. No, ma'am. We are dealing with three options, and it's in there.
We are dealing with current condition, current condition with improvements, and the natural river options. You're right, we have taken out the mid-river option, it is too expensive for the benefits to the salmon, so we are no longer studying that option.
But of the options, the last option of three that we're looking at, because of the feasibility study we are looking at; current conditions, current conditions with improvement, and drawdown to natural river. We've thrown out the other two drawdowns of the river and the only option, if you are going to draw down the river at all, is to take it all the way down, or don't study it.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. Thank you, gentlemen. We appreciate your perseverance here and the information you have provided.
There may be additional supplementary questions we will tender in writing and would ask you to respond expeditiously. The hearing record would be left open for that purpose.
We will excuse the first panel, and invite panel No. 2 to come up.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Chairman, we have a guest in the audience; between panels, I would like to introduce him.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Certainly.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. He is a special friend of the three of us, and he is here also in Lewiston, Idaho; he is our top gunI think many of you remember the movie Top Gun, and in part, this movie was made on the life story and the heroics of one Duke Cunningham in Vietnamand we are privileged to serve with Congressman Cunningham, and he is in the audience. I'd like for you to stand, Congressman, and just give away, there is our top gun.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. We are pleased to welcome you here to Idaho. Great that you could join us.
We have as members of our second panel: Mr. Bruce Lovelin, Executive Director, Columbia River Alliance; Mr. Sherl L. Chapman, Executive Director, Idaho Water Users Association; and Dr. W. G. Nelson, Director of Public Affairs, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation.
Would you gentlemen please rise and raise your right hands.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. Let the record reflect that each answered in the affirmative.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are now under the gun for time, so we will try to ask witnesses and members, and including the Chairman, to live within the 5 minutes. The lights explain when you are getting near the end. The yellow light is the beginning of the fifth minute.
And with that, Mr. Lovelin, we would welcome you, sir.
STATEMENT OF BRUCE J. LOVELIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COLUMBIA RIVER ALLIANCE
Mr. LOVELIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mrs. Chenoweth, and Mr. Crapo. I do appreciate the opportunity to be here today.
I have provided testimony and I would plan at this point, because of the need to abbreviate the testimony to speak about a few elements of my testimony.
First off, our group is the Columbia River Alliance. We came together as multi-users of the Columbia and Snake River system.
We represent agriculture, both irrigation and dry land farming, navigation, forest products, manufacturing and community organizations.
We come together with a real strong belief that we can help and save these Northwest salmon, especially the Snake River endangered salmon, while at the same time maintaining this multi-use river system.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think that, deviating a little bit from my testimony, it is interesting, Mr. Chairman, that a little more than 5 years ago, and I'm not sure if you were here during that, but I am sure Mrs. Chenoweth was, in March 1992, this community saw and felt the effects of a drawdown. We did a test. We wanted to see if it could be done, and it was a physical test.
We drew down the Lower Granite reservoir for about a month's period, and we decided to look at certain things, how much bank was going to be exposed, and what kind of effects.
Well, it was only supposed to be a physical test. And the reason for it, and the reason why they did it in March, Mr. Chairman, is because they didn't want any juvenile fish moving down the river system or adult fish moving up the river system, because they were concerned about the negative effects to those fish.
But what was interesting during that is that we did see some effects, some biological effects. We found dead resident fish throughout the system. The National Marine Fisheries Service estimated between 10,000 and 30,000 resident fish were dead from that 1-month drawdown test.
It disrupted the ecosystem, the ecosystem that apparently we are willing to put aside over some attempts to help the salmon.
In addition, though, it created an economic black cloud, black cloud of uncertainty over this community. And, again, Mrs. Chenoweth I am sure well knows, being from this community, that everyone was very, very concerned about that.
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Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, that economic black cloud is still here. It's expanded over other parts of Idaho.
Another part of the district in Orofino, Idaho, Dworshak Reservoir, is drawn down 80 feet almost every year to help the salmon.
We cannot get the National Marine Fisheries Service to tell us what are the benefits of that drawdown from the Dworshak Reservoir or what is the benefits of the 427,000 acre-feet that the upper Snake irrigators are providing.
The thing that's most frustrating with all of this is that we have the most expensive environmental restoration program going on in the history of the Endangered Species Act, paid for by Northwest citizens, and it's almost like, from the Federal Government's perspective, this is not real money.
But it is real money. It is our money. And it's our economic growth potential that is really at stake right now.
Now, the National Marine Fisheries Service has basically developed a single-dimensioned salmon plan, one that is focused on the dams. It's a money source, but they are focusing right on the dams. Peripheral to that is of impact to irrigators, to navigation, to others. But it is focused on the dams. And here we are 5 years after the listing, and we still do not have a comprehensive salmon recovery in place yet, a plan which two independent science groups have said needs to address fishery management practices, the use of gill nets, the use of hatcheries, and it's very, very frustrating to us that we are focusing directly, and we still have this dam removal notion on the table.
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A few years ago it wasn't really talked about, but now it is being talked about relatively openly.
Now, to my chart, which is the enclosure 3; I believe that we are at a crossroads, and I believe that the Pacific Northwest does not have what it takes to make the decision. And I believe also that the decision should be made now. And clearly, Mr. Chairman, from some of your comments, I think Congress can help us make that decision. We are at a crossroads.
The center of that diagram is the Harza Northwest Report. They came out with a report last year which basically said that we are really, we should make a right-hand turn or a left-hand turn. It's either dam removal, or the other side, is to keep the dams in-place and improve the smolt transportation program.
Now, Mr. Stelle did say something particularly interesting, which I need to emphasize, is that there's real time investigations of transportation of juvenile smolt, the benefits of those now, as compared to leaving them in the river.
In 1995 there was a test, we marked fish, those adults that came back are coming back right now, they're being caught 30, 40 miles downstream in a trap.
What it's showing is 2.7 times as many wild fish are coming back that were transported than those left in the river. 170 percent increase over the fish left in the river. And to me, that helps us decide which path we want to go down.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, we can either wait until 1999, as the National Marine Fisheries Service wants us to do, or I believe that there is economic advantage for making the decisions now.
Again, the ports in this area, they have an economic black cloud over them, economic development is important for them. Beyond that, the power system, the Bonneville Power Administration, utilities are looking elsewhere for power supply. This brings a great uncertainty to them.
But I think through our Northwest congressional delegation support, through the support of the Congress, I think it's time that we do decide which fork in the road we are going to take, that we do it in 1997 instead of 1999.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lovelin may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. I had Mr. Chapman next, but is it your wish to have Dr. Nelson first?
Mr. NELSON. No.
STATEMENT OF SHERL L. CHAPMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IDAHO WATER USERS ASSOCIATION, INC.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CHAPMAN. Chairman Doolittle, Congresswoman Chenoweth, Congressman Crapo, it is good to be here.
You have my written testimony, and because of the time constraints and your constraints, I'll just talk about a couple of the points within my testimony that I think are most important.
Mr. Lovelin referred to the Harza Report, and I think it is probably the best of the most recent reports that pull together what has been happening in the Columbia and Snake River system.
One of the things that I drew from the report and the executive summary was that there is little quantification and little justification for the benefits of all of the proposed programs or suggestions for drawdown, for transport, for in-river conditions, with regard to the fish.
It's easy, as some other witnesses have talked about, to quantify the economic impacts, the damages, so to speak, if you impose drawdowns, if you impose flow augmentation.
But little has been done to quantify what the real benefits to the fish are, if any.
There is some speculation, a lot of speculation, with regard to what we get back for what we give up. And I'm not so sure that the people in this region and in the West are willing to give up the recreation, the cheap power, the agricultural community, for the kind of benefits that are speculated on right now by the National Marine Fisheries Service and others.
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There are those that would suggest that we ought to just take drawdown off the table and not consider it any more. I think if we do that, we create perhaps more of a debate than exists now.
There are ongoing studies, as you have heard about, foror with regard to in-river survival. It is our understanding that those studies will be completed. And the Harza Report indicates that it's quite possible that in-river conditions, without drawdown, or with drawdown, either way, may be superior to some of the other systems. They seem, however, to put a lot of emphasis on the transportation system.
As Mr. Lovelin pointed out, the preliminary results seem to indicate that transportation is probably going to be perhaps the saving grace for the salmon.
We think that the options ought to be continued to be considered until we get good data. I'm a hydrologist and a geologist by profession so I lean toward science. However, I'm not a biologist. But I like to see the numbers. I like to see somebody quantify what the benefits are, if they are going to take away my livelihood.
Mr. Stelle indicated that we can have agriculture and we can have salmon, too. I think implicit in that is we can have some agriculture and we can have some salmon.
I think these kinds of issues get dehumanized. It's all well and good to talk about a reduction of 10 or 12 percent of your agricultural community as long as you are not in that 10 or 12 percent. I think that's inappropriate at this time.
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The other issue that I'm deeply concerned about is augmentation. We talked about flow augmentation and whether or not that need or perceived need will stay or go away if we have drawdown or if we have barging.
Mr. Stelle indicated that he felt that it would be reduced. In general, that's probably true, that the demand for water out of Idaho would be reduced if you implemented one or the other of these.
But the problem is, that it's not reduced in the bad water years, it's not reduced in the 5-year droughts, as we have just experienced. And if it's not reduced then, what you do is you destroy the Idaho agricultural community.
There was a study done several years ago with regard to acquiring water that was projected as being needed for the National Marine Fisheries Service plans. And just so you can have a yard stick to measure against, they use a figure of a million acre-feet of water out of Idaho, out of the upper Snake River Basin from Idaho irrigation reservoirs.
Now, keep in mind, we are already giving up 427,000 feet voluntarily until the year 1999, at which time our statute that authorizes that stops, and I see no sympathy in our state to renew that statute.
The cost for that million acre-feet out of Idaho, in the low water years, was the drying up of somewhere between 444 and 570,000 acres of irrigated land, a cost of about $500 to $600 million per year in lost revenue to our economy, and the loss of about 10 to 14,000 jobs in our state.
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We can't tolerate that. And we certainly couldn't tolerate that if you also destroy the Port of Lewiston and their industrial community.
We don't think that that's appropriate. We don't believe that the government has the numbers to justify that kind of sacrifice, or even a request for that kind of sacrifice. Let them study these issues, come back to us, and try and justify that.
But we think that some of the suggestions right now are inappropriate. We think that they are trying to really recover the salmon at any sacrifice to the state of Idaho.
We are the sacrificial lamb at this time.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Chapman may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you, sir.
Dr. Nelson, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF W.G. NELSON, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, IDAHO FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
Dr. NELSON. Mr. Chairman, and Congressman Chenoweth, Congressman Crapo, we in the Farm Bureau are particularly pleased that you are here to listen to us and our concerns.
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Mr. Stelle, Mr. Lovelin said Mr. Stelle impressed him with some of the things that he said. One of the things that he did say that made me awfully nervous is in this flow augmentation, he wants good water. Good water for Idaho agriculture means our reservoir water. It means the lifeblood of Idaho. And while I'm impressed to have him call it good water, we know where it comes from. I'm going to go home being considerably more nervous than when I arrived here.
The Idaho Farm Bureau policy is very clear and precise on this issue. We believe all water in Idaho should be used beneficially. We support the following salmon recovery alternatives. Physically modify the dams rather than tearing them down and lowering the water levels, and improve barging, such as net barging and transportation.
The rest of theof our philosophy I have outlined in my testimony, so I won't go into those.
I have a few points that I want to make, though. Agriculture is concerned with the drawdown proposals. All plans are solely focused on fish, with no consideration for the effects of such drawdowns on humans or economic activity in the entire region. Each plan has a variety of scientists, environmentalists, and fish enthusiasts supporting the plan. But the science is really piecemeal, the speculation is really rampant, and the rhetoric confusing to anyone who really is trying to get to the bottom of this and find out which plan will be most effective.
Approximately 70 percent of the suitable habitat for salmon is found in our state, indicating we've done pretty well at preserving fish habitat.
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Every plan we have reviewed includes a more normative river, whatever that is, so that juvenile salmon can migrate to the sea more quickly. There is considerable disagreement as to which strategy will be effective in bringing back the numbers which once made up the Columbia/Snake salmon fishery. No study has been done to assess the other ecological impacts of returning this permanently modified area to a non-reservoir status.
We feel breaching the dams and tampering with the John Day pool guarantees the termination of the inland waterway and will destroy Idaho's only seaport, the Port of Lewiston. As an inland shipping state, Idaho needs the Port to remain competitive. Pacific Northwest exports 90 percent of its wheat. 200 million bushels of grain move through the port per year with a value of over $859 million. About 54 percent of the Idaho production moves through this inland waterway and the lower barge rates at less than one-half the cost of rail and one-third the cost of truck transportation, directly helps farmers.
Idaho exports of wheat and barley total $350 million per year and ending barging certainly would jeopardize a large portion of these exports.
If the barge traffic would be transferred to truck and rail transportation, as some suggest, the environmental impacts would be enormous. A 470 percent increase in emissions from rail and a 709 percent increase in emissions from trucks.
To meet the flow requirements, Idaho prominently figures in balancing the water needs of fish. This water will come at the expense of agriculture, recreation and other users. Idaho agriculture is the key to Idaho's economy and provides between 25 to 30 percent of our state's economy in any given year. This segment of the Idaho economy generates about $3.5 billion and we feel these drawdowns will put that entire agricultural production in jeopardy.
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Breaching the four lower Snake dams and lowering the John Day pool will have a serious affect on our electric generation in the Pacific Northwest. We firmly believe that breaching the dams and lowering the John Day pool will cost the the Bonneville Power a full 10 percent of its revenues; with the current demands on dollars in the power system, the cost just about guarantees a failure of Bonneville Power, which would have to be bailed out by Congress. In addition, it increases the chances of massive power outages, large increases in food prices, and economic repercussions in about every segment of Idaho business and economy.
We guarantee no amount of fishermen coming to drop a hook in Idaho waters will begin to offset the economic chaos that the breach of the four dams will bring to our state.
We in the Farm Bureau believe that removing the dams is the most costly proposal being advanced for the recovery of salmon. We feel eliminating barging and breaching the dams produces the lowest survival rate of the smolt that we have studied. The 66 percent smolt survival rate of the dam removal scheme does not take into account the effect of increases in adult travel times to travel the river.
We do not believe the speculation in the plan and are convinced that if it's implemented it will have a disastrous effect on irrigated agriculture, Idaho economy, electric generation, Bonneville Power, and will lead to the need of large treasury bailouts to sustain the plan.
We are convinced that this plan will cost over three-quarters of a billion dollars per year and guarantees nothing to the fish, to the States or to the Tribes. And if the plan includes lowering the John Day pool, it will surely lead to floods in both Portland and Vancouver.
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With that, I would conclude my testimony, and I thank you very much for the opportunity to come and discuss it.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Nelson may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. Let me ask the three of you, Mr. Stelle acknowledged the clear benefits to salmon that barging provides, and yet nevertheless indicated that in-river fish passage was superior in the long run.
So, in your opinion, do you think there's a bias in the scientific community that is going to drive their decision toward permanent drawdowns?
Mr. CHAPMAN. Mr. Chairman, I'll take the first crack at it and let Mr. Lovelin have at me afterwards.
I have to believe that the way the debate has been structured, for the most part in the past, that there is a press at least toward moving toward in-river conditions; toward a restoration of a natural river. That's the philosophy of many people in the scientific community.
I won't go so far as to say that many of them are anti-dam. But I do know some people within that community personally, and they have that philosophy.
There seems to be, to me, a bias in the biological community that we ought to get back as close as we can to the natural conditions to recover the natural fishery. That may be the case.
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But it's our position, as I think much of the public in the Pacific Northwest, is that we're not, probably not willing to give up what it would require to go back a hundred years.
I think once the people understand what the benefits are, what they have to give up, the decision will be clear.
Mr. LOVELIN. Mr. Chairman, I agree with Mr. Chapman.
I would say that Mr. Stelle is in a real tough spot. The honeymoon's almost over for him. He's come out to the Northwest, and now Northwesterners, they want more salmon. And he's been unable to deliver.
And I think that we're going to start seeing, yes, something in front of him which is hard, hard science, suggesting that barging does work, despite our improvements on the river system, barging does work, and it works actually quite well.
And so he's been walking this tightrope, this political tightrope of one-half, or part of the Northwest, the vocal part of the Northwest saying, let's leave the fish in the river, let's remove the dams, and the other half saying, let's try to manage within the system we have, and if it works, let's enhance upon that.
And so ultimately the National Marine Fisheries Service is going to be called upon to deliver. And I think to some extent, that's why Mr. Stelle revised the state of Idaho's attempts to leave more fish in the river in this particular year, and put more in barges.
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Mr. NELSON. Mr. Chairman, I agree. I think that the science that they are basing this on is in a continuous state of flux.
I really think they are finding that barging is pretty effective. But when the smolt actually reach the Columbiathe ocean estuarywhat the food source is there at that time is more of a determining factor on whether they are going to survive or not.
And so if they were to use the barging and fine tune the science a little bit more as to when they should arrive and when they should barge and get the time sequence down, I think they would find that's very effective. And this bias for just knocking out dams would go away.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I'd like to ask you other questions, but I think I'm going to recognize Mrs. Chenoweth.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Lovelin, I wanted to start out with you. Mr. Batt in his testimony claims that the Port of Lewiston is heavily subsidized. Do you agree that the Port of Lewiston is heavily subsidized?
Mr. LOVELIN. No, I do not.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Would you care to elaborate on that?
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Mr. LOVELIN. Yes. The Port of Lewiston is actually very much of a growing economic industry in itself. We had a tour of the facility yesterday. And the growth that they're having in both the container business and the grain export business has been just very astounding. From the recent Tri-Port Economic Impact Study that was just completed, suggests that businesses would lose about $35.6 million if we remove the transportation activities. There's also another $81 million of impact related to those tri-ports that would also be impacted by a river navigation drawdown.
But relative to subsidies, though, no, it's not our belief that there are the subsidies that some of the dam removal advocates have been suggesting.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Do you think that the economic interests give a fair consideration in the current salmon decisionmaking process as it now stands?
Mr. LOVELIN. No, ma'am. We're not. Simply we're kind of a third class citizen, I would call it that.
I think you heard Mr. Stelle talk about the sovereigns. Well, we're not part of the sovereigns. That's the states, the Federal agencies and the tribal interests.
The second class citizen has basically been the environmental interest. They have been allowed to go to court and to ask for judicial review of Endangered Species Act issues. Not until, what, a month or so ago with Bennett v. Spear, the Supreme Court decision, now we have that same ability.
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Unfortunately, we're just called upon to pay the price. And it is very, very frustrating for us because we know that it's our economic livelihood is on the line, and it's important for us to get these salmon recovered at the least cost possible.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Could you explain for me on the record how and when the Federal agencies become sovereign?
Mr. LOVELIN. Self-decree, ma'am.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I wanted to ask Sherl Chapman, you state in your testimony that flow augmentation may continue under the permanent drawdown option and gives us a good idea of the impact on Southern Idaho. Does there also continue to be impacts on the operation of the Dworshak within that framework?
Mr. CHAPMAN. Yes. I would anticipate that under any drawdown scenario, that the water that is required, whether really required or not, will come from the Southern Idaho reservoirs, the upper Snake River system, above Brownlee Dam.
However, I don't see any willingness or assertions or even any suggestions by the Federal agencies that the pressure on Dworshak will be lessened or discontinued at all.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I don't like to hear that.
For Mr. Nelson, do you think that salmon harvest levels need to be regulated more closely? Salmon harvest levels maybe out in the ocean?
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Dr. NELSON. Absolutely. I think, from all that I can read, and certainly I'm not a fisheries expert, but the temperature of the ocean and the catch in the ocean has a vital impact on what returns to Idaho.
If it was only our river, we wouldn't be the onlywe'd be the only place in the upperwell, on the West Coast that would be experiencing this factor of diminishing returns. But most of the rivers have experienced this. And many of them don't even have dams. So I think that the harvest and the conditions in the ocean are extremely critical to their survival.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And finally, Mr. Nelson, in the closing paragraphs of your testimony, your written testimony, you made reference to the Bevan plan. Is this plan being seriously considered by any of the Federal agencies at this time? And why? What is it about the Bevan plan that your organization prefers?
Dr. NELSON. Representative Chenoweth, we feel that any plan that we've looked at that is strictly like what is being advanced now, one-dimensional, cannot work, and is the most costly. The Bevan plan actually retains the multiple uses, doesn't call for destroying Idaho. As near as we can tell, you can recover the salmon and also retain some economy in the area. And of course that would be the kind of plan that we would recommend and endorse.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. Mr. Crapo is recognized.
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Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chapman, currentlyI'm going to followup the line of questioning that I went through with the earlier panel with regard to flow augmentation.
Currently we basically see Dworshak providing about 1.2 million acre-feet, Brownlee about 240,000 acre-feet of water, and the upper Snake about 427,000 acre-feet. That's status quo. Could you give me your opinion as to what the relative impacts on that demand for flow augmentation will be under the competing approaching for the salmon recovery that we are looking at?
And I'm talking about the natural river option, or drawdown approach, versus the current system with improvements in transportation and improvements in fish passage.
Mr. CHAPMAN. Based on the history, we have seen various proposals and plans that have been suggested in the past that range from the status quo of about a million out of Dworshak and then 600,000-plus out of the upper Snake River Basin, to as much as 1.9 million acre-feet of water out of the upper Snake River Basin, in addition to anything that was taken out of Dworshak.
Mr. CRAPO. Which would be about four-and-a-half times as much water?
Mr. CHAPMAN. Yes, sir. And the impact is fairly arithmetic. It's a straight line impact for some distance up above the million acre-feet, and I don't recall where the break point is, but as I recall, at about a million and three-quarters acre-feet of water taken out of the Basin above Brownlee and Hells Canyon, then you essentially take all of the water. The eight million acre-feet of water that we have in the Snake River Basin.
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And so you eliminate agriculture. You just destroy it.
Mr. CRAPO. And under which approach?
Mr. CHAPMAN. This would be the full flow augmentation approach with the existing reservoirs in place. That was the most draconian of the plans that we had seen in the past, and they dropped down to somewhere in the neighborhood of the 427,000 acre-feet, which we've agreed to produce during the NMFS experiment that's going on until 1999.
Mr. CRAPO. And then what would happen if we went to a natural river flow?
Mr. CHAPMAN. We're not sure. As Mr. Stelle pointed out, generally he assumed that the request would lessen, or be less. To me, that means it may be something less than the one-and-a-half to 2 million acre-feet we are sending down now.
But the concern that I have is that we in Idaho, as you remember well, have recently gone through a 5-year drought. And in 1992 had NMFS demanded even a 427,000 acre-feet of water, we could not have provided it. All of our reservoirs were at rock bottom, and at that point in time we would have lost most of Idaho agriculture.
Mr. CRAPO. So it would be risky under that scenario.
Mr. CHAPMAN. It would be risky, even under the status quo.
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Mr. CRAPO. Dr. Nelson, you picked up on the comment about good water that was made by Mr. Stelle. And to be honest, I am sorry that he had to leave, because I would like to talk to him about that, too.
But do you have any idea what that concept might mean? I noticed that you picked up on it. I am wondering what concerns it raised in your mind.
Mr. NELSON. I suspect, Congressman, that it's reservoir water that comes from the bottom that's colder than maybe natural flow water.
Mr. CRAPO. So you are talking a temperature issue, as opposed to the speed of the flow issue?
Mr. NELSON. I think so. And I think our water quality in Idaho is pretty good. And this makes good water.
Mr. CRAPO. If the two of us are correct, surmising that that is what he was referring to, let's just make that assumption, whether that is what he meant or not, with regard to that issue, what does that say about flow augmentation under the various approaches? Do you know? Do any of you know what that holds, what implications that holds for the amount of flow augmentation that would be required under the natural drawdown or a natural river system, as opposed to the current system with the operational transportation?
Mr. NELSON. We don't know. You know, if you take the natural flow in the spring, probably not much. But if we're going to talk about summer runs of Chinook, and try to get colder water and what have you, it may mean an awful lot of good water.
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So, we're concerned. We don't know for sure what that means.
Mr. CRAPO. Just one last question. I notice my time is about up, and I would like to ask if any of you who want to respond quickly, and this question is, as you will recall, my comments to Mr. Stelle earlier about my concerns with regard to the process, there are already those pulling out of the process because they are unhappy with it, and there has been an expression on this panel of not being heard, or being a third class participant in the process.
Do you feel that the current process being operated basically by NMFS in this arena, is adequately bringing to the table all of the competing interests and letting them have a fair shot at having their interests represented, understood, and involved in the ultimate decisionmaking?
Mr. LOVELIN. No.
Mr. NELSON. No.
Mr. CRAPO. All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. We thank you, gentlemen, for your appearance today. We will have further questions. Please respond to them expeditiously. We will keep the record open for that point. And we will excuse you. Thank you very much for your testimony.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And we will call up our last, but not least, panel No. 3, why don't you gentlemen come up and remain standing. We will administer the oath here. As soon as you find out where you are sitting, if you would please raise your right hands.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Let me welcome to the panel Dr. James Anderson, Columbia Basin Research, University of Washington; Mr. M. Steven Eldrige, General Manager of Umatilla Electric Cooperative; Mr. Charles Ray, Wild Salmon Director, Idaho Rivers United; and Mr. Mitch Sanchotena, Executive Coordinator, Idaho Steelhead and Salmon Unlimited.
Gentlemen, we're pleased to have you here, and I think you have heard the routine probably about the lights, and we will recognize Dr. Anderson for his testimony.
STATEMENT OF JAMES J. ANDERSON, COLUMBIA BASIN RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
Mr. ANDERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mrs. Chenoweth, thank you, Mr. Crapo, thank you for inviting me to testify.
In my written testimony I have detailed information on information related to what we are finding in the PATH process, of which I am a member, on survival of fish down the river.
And some of the issues related to growth I've briefly addressed, and I've also briefly addressed some of the benefits we may gain by drawing down the reservoirs in terms of increased spawning area.
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But what I want to do, though, right now is discuss very briefly some of the elements that I have in this one sheet that I gave you. And basically what we're trying to do in PATH is ask, if drawdown will give us something better than what we now have in the river system. And some of these answers, first order answers, are actually quite simple to obtain, and we have made some definite progress, as Mr. Stelle has indicated.
And I'd like to address these items, starting with item A. That we can make an estimate of what we will have with drawdown. And it's in terms of juvenile survival for spring Chinook. And it's about 66 percent.
We figure by comparison to other data, before we had the Snake River dams, there was about 90 percent survival through that part of the system. We know there's about 10 percent mortality in each dam. You put it all together. We would expect about 66 percent survival.
Now, the question then is, is this better than what we have right now or is it worse? Because that would be one of those clear definitive things that we could say about the system. We also believe from the pit tag studies, there's about 43, 40 percent survival, somewhere in that range, of fish going through the river.
We also know, that's the example B which I show, example C is we have an estimate of what we get with transportation in terms of the survival of collecting fish, putting them in barges and dropping them below Bonneville Dam. We know there's almost a hundred percent survival in the process of transportation itself. And so the survival down below Bonneville is about 70 percent.
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If that was the issue, we would findif that was the complete story, we would find no real need to draw down the reservoirs in terms of juvenile survival.
The issue then is, is there some additional mortality going on after we release the fish from the barges. And we have been arguing that for a number of years. With particularly the 1995 returns that comport very well with the survival studies, or the transport survival studies that we have done since 1968, we get more fish back in the barges than we do in the river.
And it appears to the best of our knowledge that there is no additional delayed mortality in barging.
So we might expect to find very high survival in the process of picking fish up and putting them in barges and letting them go through the river system. The fish have continued to decline, though, in the last few years. So if it's not in the barges, is there some mortality someplace else that might be affected by reservoir drawdown? And that's one of the things that we're starting to address in PATH.
On the back page I have some of the issues that we're concerned with right now. And as we know, both climate and the hydro system have affected the fish over the last hundred years. And this is a diagram I put together, maybe you've seen this before, showing the catch in the Columbia River from the beginning of the century up to the present. Also with the step function right there showing the increase in generating capacity, showing, as the dams have been brought on, the stocks have gone down.
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Now, we also know from a lot of recent information that climate, particularly the wet and the dry cycles that have about a 20 year period to them, through those cycles, that they appear to have a great impact on the fish.
And we know that in the early 1920's there was very high catch in the system and it was a very wet period, and there seemed to be a balance in the stocks for maintaining themselves. And about 1920 the weather shifted to a dry condition, the stocks started declining, and that was really about the time that we started the decline toward the ESA listings.
But it's interesting to me that in the 1950's, when the system was being developed, hydro system, there was a very wet period, and I think that that mitigated the impacts of that development. Unfortunately, in 1977, the time that the Snake River dams were finished, the times we started transporting fish, the weather turned dry again and all those elements together made us think that there was a problem with the system.
We now begin to think that maybe the transportation possibly was not the problem, but actually it was something which has kept the stocks from going extinct over the last few years.
But the issue is not solved then by transportation. The real question that we need to address is what is the impact of the hydro system on the response of, particularly the Snake River fish, to the weather conditions. It's something that we will be addressing in the next few years.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think my final point would be that we are carrying these analyses out through this PATH process, which is not entirely unlike the rebellious British Parliament, I think. We go at the issues in a very rigorous fashion.
And I think that we should be held accountable to review all of the hypotheses and keep everybody at the table until we come up with some very definite conclusions in terms of the probabilities and risk analysis that science can then offer to the decisionmakers.
I will conclude my testimony with that.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Anderson may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you.
Mr. Eldrige, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF M. STEVEN ELDRIGE, GENERAL MANAGER, UMATILLA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE
Mr. ELDRIGE. Thank you. I would ask that you accept my written testimony into the record.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Certainly.
Mr. ELDRIGE. And many of the things that I was going to say have been touched on, so I will be as brief as I can.
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I would like to start out by mentioning that I'm unique on any of from people that you invited on the panel. Because I manage a private, independent business that happens to be owned by the people who we provide electricity to.
Now, while people like me are beginning to feel a little threatened; it remains to be seen if we will actually be listed as endangered.
When Bob Smith's staff called and asked me to speak, he asked if we would talk about the power impacts on energy supply and that kind of thing. So that is what I would like to do.
I have been in the utility business for 25 years. I remember about 20 years ago when there was a huge distortion in the Northwest system, started by an outage in Montana, and before it was all over, most of the Bonneville Power system was out of power.
And if you will remember, there was a major outage last summer, due to a number of different factors, but I believe generally due to a lack of capacity. Just as the outage that started in Montana years before, there was not enough generation available during an outage period to maintain load.
I will guarantee you, and I will say it as strongly as I can, if we take 4,500 to 5,600 megawatts of capacity out of our generation pool, and unless we replace it, we will have huge reliability problems and stability problems. It's a guarantee. It's not a question. It's just how much and how bad.
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And the cost to replace hydro capacity has been way underestimated. It's not if it's going to cost more, it's order of magnitude of how much more.
And the reason is this. The way the system operates right now is a hydro generator can be brought on line in a matter of minutes. A thermal plant takes hours to bring on line. So we have this enormous peaking capacity instantaneously to meet load.
It makes economic these combustion turbine plants. You have maybe heard the term firm and non-firm energy. There is a vast amount of a kind of non-firm energy available. And it's the mix of the hydro system and the excess capacity and all of those kind of things that makes for the low-cost power.
And everybody relies on the Federal hydropower system to make their energy more valuable.
PacifiCorp in the Northwest is the single largest customer that Bonneville has. And they buy non-firm energy. And then through financial instruments and knowing the market, they sell that just like it was firm energy, and they make money on it.
Now, if you replace this hydro generation with thermal plants, and have the same kind of reliability and capacity, you've got to have thermal plants running unloaded, spinning reserve, so that when something drops off unexpectedly, there is still generation there. That is going to raise costs.
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And the other thing is, those plants, those new thermal plants, because of where all our transmission plant is, have to be along the Columbia River.
Now, just to give you an idea, Jack talked a little bit about the environmental consequences. Let me tell you how bad it really is.
Now, these numbers I have a lot of confidence in, I can recreate them for you if you need me to, but they are from Bonneville's Business Plan Environmental Impact Statement, and the methodology we used is suggested by the EPA, and what you do is you take the emissions of the thermal plants and you make a carbon equivalent, and this is how the numbers come out.
On an average energy basis these new plants will put out eight million metric tons of pollutants each year. If you replaced capacity, it's at a rate of 16 million metric tons of pollutants each year.
You're going to see that in the air. That's like three million new cars driving 11,000 miles and at 20 miles a gallon. That's a lot of pollutant.
Now, I'm not here to make a value judgment on the rightness or wrongness. But we must not underestimate the value from electric prices to the kind of reliability we like, and to the environmental cleanliness for air quality and other things, global warming, that we get from our hydro system. Costs will go up very significantly, I believe.
That concludes my remarks.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Eldrige may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you.
Mr. Ray, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES RAY, WILD SALMON DIRECTOR, IDAHO RIVERS UNITED
Mr. RAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Representative Chenoweth, Representative Crapo.
I want to pick a couple items out of my written testimony that haven't been covered very much today, and I think they do need, in the investigation of this subcommittee, need to be covered thoroughly and repeatedly.
The first one is subsidy. At the same time the Federal hydropower system was being developed, massive subsidies were being put into place. They have been well-identified. They include power rate discounts to irrigation, to the aluminum industry, to the Bureau of Reclamation, and foregone power sales due to irrigation water withdrawals, and the subsidy that's enjoyed by the navigation industry.
These embedded subsidies have crippled the Bonneville Power Administration, they have placed an undeserved financial burden on the region's ratepayers and taxpayers, and they have shifted enormous debt on the backs of the fish and the economies that depend on healthy fish runs.
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I'm really surprised today that this subcommittee doesn't appear to be interested in taking a hard look, taking as hard a look at these massive subsidies that support some of the very industries represented here today, as this subcommittee appears to be interested in looking at whether there are real or imagined impacts from destroying these fish.
I think if the facts were openly presented, there is a real question of whether the lower Snake dams are really worth the fleecing of the taxpayers and the ratepayers that's going hand in hand with the decline of salmon and steelhead.
This subsidy issue is inseparable from the fish issue and it is inseparable from any study of economics. Fairness and good public policy demands as hard a look at the subsidies as the options to restore the fish are receiving.
I really find it hard to believe that this Republican Congress, this subcommittee and the members of this subcommittee really want to perpetuate these massive public subsidies at the expense of ratepayers, taxpayers, good public policy, the fish, and the economies that depend on the fish.
The second item I want to cover is honesty and promises. That's another issue that can't be separated from this issue. When this current system that we're talking about, the Federal hydropower navigation irrigation system, came into being, it came hand in hand with a whole bunch of promises. Some of them started a lot longer ago than that.
In 1855 our government, represented by representatives and Congressmen today, made a promise to the Indian nations that those fish runs would be perpetuated. That promise was reaffirmed in U.S. v. Oregon, a landmark law decision in 1976.
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Each one of those Federal dams was authorized with the implicit promise that the fish runs would remain. In 1973 the Endangered Species Act promised that these fish would be preserved. 1976 the Northwest Snake Riverlower Snake River Compensation Plan promised Idaho fishermen that the salmon would be there for them to catch. In 1980 the Northwest Power Act promised restoration of the fish.
These promises haven't been kept. And I think this breech of trust is probably the biggest tragedy that has befallen this region and its citizens.
The decline of these fish and the dependent economies and cultures is clear evidence of the failure of our government to honor and keep these repeated and clear and unambiguous promises. The citizens of this state, the region, and the nation, expect those promises to be kept. We're not going to forget about them and they're not going to go away.
The public expects the return of the biological and cultural and economical benefits that could be enjoyed from restored salmon and steelhead runs. Restoration promised all the way back to 1855.
It's far past time to correct the mistakes of the past, the lower Snake and Columbia River dams, and begin keeping those promises.
I think it's very clear that the real challenge facing the Federal Government, the Federal agencies, the Congress, and this subcommittee is not to go out and hunt up all the reasons that we can't do what's necessary to keep the promises and restore the salmon and steelhead.
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The real challenge and what the public is looking for you to do is to recognize that it's time to keep the promises and to find the courage to do what it takes to restore these fish.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ray may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. Mr. Sanchotena, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF MITCH SANCHOTENA, EXECUTIVE COORDINATOR, IDAHO STEELHEAD AND SALMON UNLIMITED
Mr. SANCHOTENA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Representative Chenoweth and Representative Crapo. It's been a long day.
On behalf of Idaho Steelhead and Salmon Unlimited and our 2000 members, we want to thank you, Chairman Doolittle, for coming to Idaho, and I want to compliment you on some of the questions I've heard you ask earlier. And if I may deviate from my testimony for a moment, I don't feel that they have been properly addressed.
You asked a question, what is the Northwest Power Planning Council's plan? And Mike, you have said we ought to have regional control over this issue. The 1994 strategy for salmon from the four Governors of this region said something to the effect that, their recommendation is to decrease barging of anadromous juveniles and to leave significantly more than half of the fish in the river, drawdown of John Day by 1996, and a drawdown of the lower Snake by 1999.
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So that's the regional plan that this region has adopted. It has not been changed. I don't know whether the votes will be there to change it. We'll all be in that confrontation once again.
You also asked another very good question, Mr. Chairman, and that was the question, as citizens, would we do what, one of the alternatives being on the table, is to breach the dams.
And that question was asked by Greg Smith & Associates, and by the way, an ex-Senator of Idaho, he did a poll, and that poll confirmed 49 percent of the Idaho residents, and the question was asked, would you take out the dams to save salmon? 49 percent of the respondents said yes. 47 percent were opposed. And 3 percent was undecided.
So I think it was a very good question, and I am sorry they didn't give you that answer.
Mike, you asked a really good question along the lines of Mr. Stelle, and it is unfortunate that he has not done his homework and looked into this, would drawdowns take more Idaho water.
In 1992 an Army Corps of Engineers documentat that time we were doing, we had just finished Senator Hatfield's salmon summit, and we were looking at a spillway crest drawdownthat Corps document identified that the spillway crest, that the biological travel times of migrating juveniles from the lower Snake River could be met 96 out of 100 years, simply with in-flow from the Salmon, in-flow from the Clearwater and normal power generation from Brownlee Reservoir.
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So it appears to me that if we go to natural river, which is below the spillway crest, it would alleviate any need for upper Snake River water.
So I think those are awful good questions, and I appreciate you giving me the time to respond to them.
One other thing I would urge the Committee to look into, I believe Mr. Chapman said that the 427,000 acre-feet of Idaho water taken during drought years impacted Idaho farmers.
I would like to make it perfectly clear, look at the Bureau of Reclamation records, there was no irrigation water used, not one drop of Idaho irrigation water was used in the 427, it was Showdam water, it was Pocatello city water, and non-contracted.
So it's unfortunate some of the things we have heard here along those lines. But I think it ties in well with what I have to say, in prepared testimony. And that is that Idaho sports fisherman were the first to fall victim to the completion of the four lower Snake River dams that were completed in 1975, and by 1978 Idaho's once productive general statewide Chinook salmon and fishing seasons had been closed and they have never reopened as a result of that.
This is not about salmon, but it is also about wild steelhead, as well. Keep in mind that wild steelhead have never recovered since their simultaneous decline with Chinook salmon only 3 years after Lower Granite was built. In spite of the sport fishing closures since 1982 wild steelhead hang precariously near extinction and will possibly be listed for protection by the Endangered Species Act later this year.
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There are 25,000 steelhead fishermen in Idaho that contribute over $90 million annually to Idaho's economy, and if salmon were restored, that figure would go to in excess of $150 million. That economy is seriously being threatened by the current operation of these dams.
But Idaho fishermen are not the only victims of the dams. The list has been expanded and it has been expanded in your state, Chairman Doolittle. Fishermen from California to Alaska are now also victims. This year the Pacific Fisheries Management Council shut down salmon fishing off the coast of California to save a few Snake River fall Chinook. Idaho ranchers and water users are also, or soon will become, additional victims of these dams.
It has become explicitly clear that these dams continue to kill so many salmon and steelhead this every wild spawner surviving to adulthood and making it back to Idaho is so valuable to perpetuation of this species that land use actions must be shaped to protect every one of the few that return.
I have two recommendations for how this committee, in focusing on the lower Snake dams, can help restore Snake River steelhead and salmon, as required by law and treaty.
My first recommendation concerns juvenile fish barging. For nearly 20 years, the primary steelhead and salmon management action undertaken at these dams have been the collection and artificial transportation of that fish in trucks and barges.
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For nearly 20 years this action has been a failure. Finally, now one scientific finding after another, along with some of the region's most noted scientists, are finally admitting what Idaho fishermen have known over a decade, Idaho's anadromous fish returns as adults in far greater numbers when as smolts they are able to ride a good spring freshet downstream to the ocean.
No one is interested in preserving wild steelhead and salmon as museum pieces. Therefore, the Independent Scientific Advisory Board's peer review document, Return to the River, which states that a ''normative river system'' is needed to restore the runs must be the starting point for all discussions.
Those of you who have read the document will recall that the recent authoritative ISAB report called for the use of barging only experimentally and instead to focus on in-river migration.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game has very good documentation of this fact, and I would urge Idaho's Congressional leaders to rely more on the expertise of our own state's biologists for what is best for our anadromous fish resource.
Also I believe it is important to note that Governor Batt, Senator Kempthorne, and Representative Crapo have now all joined ISSU in calling or the feds. to wean themselves away from barging.
The administration currently plans to wait until 1999 to decide whether to focus our limited salmon and steelhead funds on returning fish to the river, or trying instead to improve fish barging. This delay will simply waste millions of dollars.
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The scientific verdict is in, and the Idaho verdict is in from Governor Batt.
I urge this committee to recommend an immediate decision in favor of the in-river path and I urge you, Representative Chenoweth, to join Governor Batt, Senator Kempthorne and Representative Crapo in calling for an end to steelhead barging so we can get on with restoring these fish.
Our second recommendation concerns the future of lower Snake dams themselves. What Idaho fishermen already knew is reaffirmed by Dr. Don Chapman. Before a Senate Subcommittee hearing chaired by Idaho Senator Kempthorne in Washington D.C., Dr. Chapman stated we will not go back to the way it once was. Even if we want to go back to the harvest of the 1950's, only 45 years ago, there is only one way to do that, take out four Snake River dams and probably John Day, as well.
Those of you who know Dr. Chapman know that he is recognized by many as one of the region's leading anadromous fish experts and in the past he has primarily represented Columbia River hydropower benefactors. Mr. Chapman's honesty in making this statement must be admired and respected. It also must be taken seriously.
Dr. Chapman's statement along with the Independent Scientific Implementation Team's peer review document stating that a ''Normative River System'' is needed to restore the runs must be the starting point for many questions and subsequent decisions; i.e., to what point does society want to restore the runs and how much are they willing to pay. What are the societal, economic, and cultural values of restored runs? What are the assets and liabilities of the Four lower Snake River Dams and a drawdown of John Day?
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All these questions, plus several others must be asked, and their findings reviewed.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Let me just ask you, we're over time.
Mr. SANCHOTENA. Right. ISSU therefore requests that this committee request both the General Accounting Office and the Office of Management and Budget to conduct a thorough and unbiased audit of the assets and liabilities of the four lower Snake River dams and a spillway crest drawdown of John Day. We also request that until the results of that audit are made public, all further spending on these four dams which locks in the current failed management be suspended.
Right now the Army Corps of Engineers plans to spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars in the next 5 years to gold plate these dams and lock in the current failed fish barging program. This committee can perform a real service to the taxpayers by urging that this spending cease until we decide as a region what the future of these dams should be.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Sanchotena may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you.
Well, Dr. Anderson, from your testimony, I gather, looking at these charts, particularly Exhibit 2, do you conclude, then, that clearly the presence of the dams on the river has resulted in a substantial decrease in the fisheries?
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Mr. ANDERSON. I think it has been a mixed bag. I think the dams have been detrimental to the fish in different periods of time.
In all the work that we've done, that I've done, that NMFS has done, and the recent information suggests that we're doing better now with juvenile passage than any time in the past.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. So, what I find puzzling is, the graph you show us here clearly indicates that the juvenile transportation is working, and the survival is higher with it than without it. And yet there is intense opposition to it.
Our last witness here indicated apparently the Governor of Idaho and the other Governors of this Northwest Council signed onto a report that calls for these drawdowns.
Is that your understanding?
Mr. ANDERSON. I'm not fully aware of all of the political agendas.
I do know that Galileo had a similar problem, when he was saying that the earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way. And I think that eventually science, given a chance, will find its way to proper conclusions.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Is science, in your opinion, being given a chance, or is it being replaced by pseudo science?
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Mr. ANDERSON. My feeling is that within the process of PATH and some of the formal analyses, which are very vigorous, that we will get to some of these conclusions. What I worry about is when scientists present hypotheses and then they are taken as proven facts. And I think the scientific process should be allowed to consider all of the hypotheses and then come to conclusions on it.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. And that is a traditional process, but indeed there are some within the scientific community who feel the issues cry out for resolution, that it's time to move away from judicial science and on to projecting hypotheses.
Mr. ANDERSON. All we can do is state the numbers, look at the correlations and look at the ecological basis of things, and that's all we can do as scientists.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I don't think you really got into it today, but I believe I've heard you testify before where you describe what appears to be an inverse relationship between the Alaskan salmon populations and those off the Pacific Northwest.
Is that right?
Mr. ANDERSON. That was 2 years ago, and there's been a considerable amount of extra, additional information that's been documented since then, some good reports out.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. And further validating
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Mr. ANDERSON. Further validating this inverse relationship. Ecological theories are being developed and I think will be available at the end of this year to begin to test the mechanisms producing these decadal shifts in stocks.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. I wish our NMFS man was here, but he had to leave.
What does he say when you present him with your studies on these things, particularly about the inverse relationship? How do they deal with that?
Mr. ANDERSON. Well, the inverse relationship, which I presented a couple of years ago, was given to me by one of his employees. And so I just presented things that they have been understanding, and NMFS I believe, from my discussions with Mr. Stelle today, are moving forward to try to identify some of these hypotheses, and what types of research we need to do to further articulate where things are happening, where the mortality is occurring, and if there's anything that we can do about them.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, you have developed some other things here. But if that hypothesis were indeed correct, as what data you have would seem to indicate, even if you did tear down all of the dams, there wouldn't necessarily be a restoration of the traditional salmon run.
Is that correct?
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ANDERSON. The weather is always going to be a factor. And there's a difference between tearing out the entire Columbia River hydro system and tearing out part of the dams.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Namely, the four they are talking about here.
Mr. ANDERSON. And the simple, straight forward analysis that we have done so far, is that we are not going to gain the benefits we now have just by taking out the upper Snake dams, or the Snake dams. That is the initial conclusion. We will consider this in greater detail, and hopefully we will have the information to you in time to make decisions.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. And that's the lower Snake dams you are talking about?
Mr. ANDERSON. The lower Snake dams.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. I would like to ask some more questions, but it is Mrs. Chenoweth's turn.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. That's all right.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, do we have time for that? Why don't you go ahead.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I yield to you.
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Mr. DOOLITTLE. Well, all right.
Gentlemen, how do you react to his graphs and then the testimony he had about the correlation between the wetlow population salmon runs with the warm and dry years and higher population runs with cool and wet years?
Mr. SANCHOTENA. Well, first I think we need to recognize that these weather patterns have been cycling for a millennium. They have come and gone. We have had wet and dry periods, and yet we have never had anadromous fish in the Snake River on the brink of extinction until four dams were completed in the lower Snake.
Second, I would like to point out, we have heard a lot today from Mr. Stelle and Mr. Anderson and others about in-river.
But keep in mind, in-river is not normative river. In-river today is likened almost to pouring these fish down, pardon a pun, down a toilet bowl.
We have an overworked river that the Federal Government by its own admission is admitting is lethal to juvenile fish. We have to take them out of the river to give them any chance of survival.
So if we go to where the Independent Scientific Survival Board is, we are making a fish friendly river, and that in-river migration that we are talking about at that point changes drastically from a river by the Federal Government's own admission, the Army Corps of Engineers, says we must take these fish out.
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Second, the pit tag information I think is very immature, in fact this year's run is likened to the 1993 returns of adult salmon. That return was 30 percent wild fish component in the run. This year it was only 16 percent wild fish in the run, they listed species.
So in essence we will not even replace our 1993 population, and we go further toward extinction.
So I wouldn't buy into a lot right now on this pit tagging stuff. The PATH process, we have a lot of confidence in. We will track it and we would urge the Committee to track it. And let's see where this takes us as we get further down the road. But there's some real bogeymen hiding around here that I don't think we should right now base any information on what we've got and take it to the bank, that it would be a good investment.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Eldrige, did you want to comment?
Mr. ELDRIGE. Well, what I guess I would say is I think we need to decide, are we really going to do this, no matter what the science says. Are we really going to tear apart the system?
If we are really going to do that, well, then let's start down that path.
If we're really not going to do it, the studies, the pit tags, all of this other stuff, spending millions and millions of dollars on that, you know, everybody knows it's going to cost a lot of money, everybody knows it's a question mark, but if we're really not going to go to natural river, I think we need to say so and get on with some other things so that we can make it as best as we can.
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If we are really going to do it, then, fine.
But I begin to feel a little like, you know, if you're going to be bled out, it doesn't really matter if it's a vein or an artery, but let's get going on it.
Mr. SANCHOTENA. Mr. Chairman, I would like to add to that, I think Mr. Eldrige has a very good point. I think this really is a societal, economic issue. I hate to see us continue to argument about science. I really believe the science for the most part is in or nearly in.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Is what? I'm sorry.
Mr. ANDERSON. Is in or nearly in. So many scientific reports.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. It is such a fundamental thingis barging good or not? You are in disagreement here.
I mean, his graph shows that it works, and yet you are saying apparently no one has corroborated your statement, but they haven't disputed it either, that the Governors of this region have all signed off on eliminating barging.
Mr. RAY. If you would, Mr. Chairman, we have been barging fish for over 20 years, and NMFS, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Corps of Engineers, up until about 4 years ago, caught every single fish they could catch, and put them in the barges.
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Now, in that 20 year period of time that we have been barging nearly every single fish we could catch, the Idaho salmon season is closed, statewide season never to reopen, Idaho coho salmon were declared extinct in 1987, we had one Sockeye salmon come back last year, and in 1994 and 1995 we had consecutive record low returns of spring and summer Chinook, steelhead are now petitioned for ESA listing, returns, regardless of what returns of the barged fish to the dams do, returns of wild fish to the spawning ground, the true measure of the efficacy of barging, have consistently been low.
And for anybody to say that in the face of that indisputable evidence that barging works, I don't understand it.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. And I'm going to wrap up with this observation, that Dr. Anderson's testimony about the dry, warm years would account, as well, for a lot of that decline.
With that, let me recognize Mrs. Chenoweth, if you have further questions. Yes, you do. You are recognized.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Chairman, I noticed, and I called attention to Mr. Stelle's testimony, that preliminary returns through 1995, which should be viewed with great caution at this time, said, showed transported fish returning at nearly twice the rate of in-river fish.
And so I join the Chairman in showing a certain amount of concern, because transported fish are returning at twice the rate, Mr. Stelle said.
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So I just was hoping that we could have a consistent path here.
Mr. Sanchotena, you referred to Greg Smith's survey.
Mr. SANCHOTENA. Excuse me. Was I supposed to respond to that comment? I do have a response to that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Well, go ahead, please.
Mr. SANCHOTENA. As you said
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Make it real short. I didn't anticipate that.
Mr. RAY. There is no data on the return of 1990 fish, there is zero data, not a single data in at this time on return of 1995 out migrants, wild fish to the spawning grounds, not a single data figure.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Wild fish.
Mr. RAY. Wild fish. The ESA listed fish, the fish that are driving this entire process, not hatchery fish, not steelhead, ESA listed wild fish.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Ray, I think the way the salmon was listed was by gene pool makeup, not whether they were wild or hatchery fish. And I think you know that, and I know you know that.
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Mr. RAY. I don't know that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Now, Mr. Sanchotena, with regards to the Greg Smith survey, I think that survey question that you indicated read, would you be in favor of removing the dams to save the salmon?
Mr. SANCHOTENA. I believe that's the way it was referenced in the media.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right. I think that Mr. Smith's survey read, would you be in favor of removing a dam to save the salmon.
Mr. SANCHOTENA. I believe it was one or more, was the way it was worded.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right. Would you do me a favor, and would you please present us, send as an addendum to this hearing the actual questions? I would appreciate that very much.
And with that, due to the shortness of time, I want to thank all of the panel members here for their testimony, very, very valuable.
And, Mr. Eldrige, I would like to speak to you in person, or maybe you can supplement the record, with a comparison, not only to gas fired turbine alternatives, but also to nuclear power, because I think we are seriously looking at that.
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Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Crapo is recognized.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I realize that we are almost an hour over, if I see the time right, and I know there is meetings we are supposed to be at, and I will just ask one question quick and I will forego my other questions.
But each of the members of the panel, and probably to Mr. Eldrige, Mr. Ray and Mr. Sanchotena, because you represent groups in the region, rather than a research perspective, my concern about the process, I'd like to just very quickly have you respond to, do you believe that the current process in which we are currently operating allows you to effectively present your information and you feel that you are part of the table, that your concerns are being taken into consideration, and that you have an opportunity to influence the outcome of the decisionmaking in a way that is satisfactory to you?
Mr. SANCHOTENA. No.
Mr. RAY. No.
Mr. ELDRIGE. No. And it is not collaborative either.
Mr. CRAPO. OK. I just wanted to be sure I let everybody who testified have a chance to get in n that. I won't ask any more questions, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you. I would like to thank of the witnesses for your testimony. And we would like to keep the record open. We may have some additional questions that we would like to submit to you.
Mr. Ray, I'll just observe that I'm not, and this subcommittee really isn't big on subsidies. We had three major GAO reports about PMAs and cost of recovery, talking about how we get there.
So I would just share with you, that I'm fairly anti-subsidy.
Mr. RAY. Well, I appreciate that. And I think that the subsidy issue definitely demands, just as hard a look and just as intense of scrutiny as any other item within this issue that has received today.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you.
Mr. RAY. I hope you can stay on track.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. We certainly intend to do so.
With that, we willoh. Mr. Eldrige.
Mr. ELDRIGE. Just real quickly, do you know what the unsubsidized cost of a fishing license is?
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Mr. DOOLITTLE. OK. Thank you. We will excuse this panel, and the hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 6:30 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
STATEMENT OF ARTHUR M. TAYLOR, CHAIRMAN, FISH, WATER, AND WILDLIFE SUBCOMMITTEE, NEZ PERCE TRIBAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
My name is Arthur M. Taylor, I am a member of the Nez Perce Tribe. Also, I am a member of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee and the Chairman of the Fish, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee. It is with the utmost respect and honor that I am allowed to submit written testimony on behalf of my people. From time immemorial, the Nez Perce People have utilized the fish, water, animals, and medicinal plants which have been produced by the Columbia River. All living creatures which have been created by the Creator are considered sacred to the Nez Perce People. It is simply for this reason during the springtime, we honor these gifts which have been bestowed upon the Nez Perce. We honor the return of the first salmon back to the river, as well as, honoring the first roots and berries in special ceremonies. The Nez Perce People are proud of their heritage in the Pacific Northwest and in particular our heritage along the Columbia River.
With the importance the Native Americans have played in helping restore the salmon population back to the Columbia River, the four Columbia River Tribes should have been invited to participate and give testimony to the Water and Power Subcommittee. The four (the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Yakama Indian Nation, and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs) Columbia River tribes have treaty reserved rights on the Columbia River and should be consulted when making decisions regarding our reserved rights. Government to Government consultation is necessary when making decisions concerning sovereign governments.
Page 152 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For the past several years, many federal agencies have completed several studies on the Columbia River. This would include the barging of salmon through the dams, using ''flip'' gates as a means of allowing fish to pass through the dam efficiently, in effect less mortality, and have set up programs to limit the predation upon the juvenile salmon while passing through the pool of each dam. These programs have blatantly failed and we are no closer to restoring the salmon back into the Columbia River Basin than we were several years ago; this has led to more species being listed as an Endangered Species or have the potential of being listed in the very near future. There are many factors which must be considered when restoring salmon back to the Columbia River Basin: the water temperature of the John Day Pool, the dissolved gas issues, the quality of the water, and above all else, the quantity or flow of the water. The flow of the water is extremely important for the migration of juvenile salmon on their way to ocean. Anadromous fish utilize the flow of the water in order to determine the direction of the ocean, however, man has taken away the flow of water, whereby the migrating juvenile salmon are left to predation.
In order to restore the salmon back to the Columbia River Basin, we need to restore the natural river flow back to the Columbia River, which in essence would lower the temperature of the John Day Pool making the habitat more sustainable for the salmon. This issue should not be an issue solely for the ''irrigators'' who utilize the water for their personal benefit, but for the entire northwest. Restoring salmon back to the Columbia River Basin would help to restore the economy and make the Pacific Northwest once again known for it's natural resources again. The Nez Perce Tribe deserves to be recognized as a sovereign government because we have inherent rights which are protected by Treaty, therefore, we should not be considered the ''general public'' such as all of these water user coalitions.
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 1 TO 110 HERE
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