DISPOSITION OF 2019 SORs

D2019 FWS#1   D2019-C1   D2019-1   D2019-C2  

 

D2019 FWS#1   Top of Page
5-May-2019 2019-FWS#1 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2019 Libby Dam Releases for Sturgeon and Bull Trout Augmentation Flows
1. SOR Request SPECIFICATIONS
Based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) February 2006 Biological Opinion (2006 BO) on operations of Libby Dam, and the May final April-August volume runoff forecast of 4.98 million acre-feet (MAF), we are within a Tier 2 operations year for Kootenai River white sturgeon. The minimum recommended release volume for sturgeon conservation in a Tier 2 year is 0.80 MAF and we recommend the following procedures for discharge of at least this minimum volume from Libby Dam:

The precise means that will be utilized to meet these objectives are largely dependent on real-time conditions and in-season management. It is not possible to develop a single definitive recommendation for a sturgeon operation at this time due to the uncertainties in the forecast, and shape and volume of inflow. Given these uncertainties, the Service has developed the following guidelines for sturgeon operations in 2019:

• The 2019 sturgeon operations at Libby Dam will consist of one period of ramp-up/pre-peak/ascending limb flows, one period of peak flow (limited to 20,000 cubic feet per second (cfs)), and one period of ramp-down/post-peak/receding limb flows. The ramp-up and ramp-down will occur within 2006 BO ramping rates.

• Selective withdrawal gates at Libby Dam above elevation 2,326 mean sea level will be installed immediately prior to, and during, the augmentation operations, with the objective of passing the warmest water available in the forebay as it becomes available. Minimum submergence of selective withdrawal gates at Libby Dam is 30 feet, and gates will be installed to keep withdrawal elevations within 30-40 feet until all gates are installed.

• Release of the warmest water possible from Libby Dam, in combination with lower volume of release, will allow the Kootenai River temperature to increase to appropriate spawning temperatures at Bonners Ferry (8-10°C) during the receding limb of the hydrograph.

• Based on the Service’s 2006 BO on operations of Libby Dam, and the May final April-August volume runoff forecast of 4.98 MAF, we are within a Tier 2 operations year for Kootenai River white sturgeon. The minimum recommended release volume for sturgeon conservation in a Tier 2 year is 0.80 MAF, and we recommend the following procedures for discharge of at least this minimum volume:

o Increase discharge from Libby Dam to ~20,000 (peak) cubic feet per second (cfs) when the Regional Team of Biologists determines that high elevation tributary run-off is peaking.

o Maintain peak discharge (~20,000 cfs, depending on head of the forebay and river stage at Bonners Ferry) for as long as possible (~ 22 days of peak flows), taking into account the shape and volume of the ascending and descending limbs of the hydrograph and the total sturgeon flow augmentation volume available (i.e. 0.80 MAF). Although ~20,000 cfs is requested for sturgeon operations, under current conditions dam managers may need to increase outflows from Libby Dam to full powerhouse for flood risk management purposes.

o After peak flows, decrease discharge at Libby Dam (post-peak), adhering to ramping rates in the 2006 BO, to stable summer flows, to no less than bull trout minimum flows (7,000 cfs in Tier 2).

o Total number of days at peak discharge will depend on real time conditions and the shape of the inflow hydrographs.

As always, flood risk reduction operations supersede sturgeon flow augmentation, and dam managers will coordinate operations with regional sturgeon managers. Sturgeon augmentation discharge may be extended for additional days if the Corps elects to provide volume in excess of the minimum volume requirement in the 2006 BO and to control the refill rate of Libby Dam. Additional recommendations may be provided as water supply forecasts are updated.

JUSTIFICATION
The objective of the 2019 sturgeon augmentation operation described in this SOR is to provide, and maximize the duration of, peak river stages/flows during the spring run-off period. While preliminary analysis of sturgeon telemetry data by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game indicates that the number of days at or above 30,000 cfs at Bonners Ferry plays a role in increasing the likelihood that spawning sturgeon will migrate upstream of Bonners Ferry, the below average water supply in 2019 limits our ability to achieve that flow target. Two options were analyzed: target the 30,000 cfs flow at Bonners Ferry for a short period of time, or maximize the duration of the peak at a lower flow rate (than 30,000 cfs). It was decided that maximizing the duration of the peak at a lower flow rate is likely to have the greater benefit to the species. Overall, the goal of this operation is to provide conditions that will enable sturgeon to migrate to, and spawn over, rocky substrates that exist upstream of Bonners Ferry.

The operating parameters outlined in this SOR are intended to provide some guidance on how to achieve the attributes listed in Table 1 of the 2008 BO RPA clarification, given the current water supply forecast. Previous years’ operations have shown that conditions at Libby Dam and in the Kootenai River basin can change rapidly. Recognizing this, the start date and exact shape of the operation will need to be developed and modified in-season as more is known. The in-season coordination will occur via the Kootenai River Sturgeon Flow Plan Implementation Protocol Team with a final recommendation coordinated through the Action Agencies and the Technical Management Team.
2. Requester(s) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
3. TMT Recommendation May 15, 2019, TMT Meeting.

The Corps will update this section after the May 15, 2019, TMT Meeting.

4. AA Decision The Corps will update this section after the May 15, 2019, TMT Meeting.
5. IT Recommendation  
6. AA decision (post IT)  
7. Actual Implemented Operation The Corps will update this section after the May 15, 2019, TMT Meeting.
8. If different from AA decision, why?  
D2019 C-1   Top of Page
12-June-2019 2019 C-1 CRITFC Operation of the Lower Columbia Pools for the summer 2019 Treaty Fishery
1. SOR Request SPECIFICATIONS
The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), on behalf of its members, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, requests the following (Zone 6) reservoir operations (BON to MCN dams) during the summer 2019 Treaty fishery. This effort supports the 2019 ceremonial, subsistence, and commercial Treaty fishery times as set by the tribes and the Columbia River Compact.

Implement the following pool operations, as follows: Monday, June 17, 2019, 6 am, through Saturday, June 22, 2019, 6 pm Monday, June 24, 2019, 6 am, through Wednesday, June 26, 2019, 6 pm Bonneville: Operate the pool within a 1.5 foot band during the treaty fishing period. The Dalles: Operate the pool within a 1.5 foot band during the treaty fishing period. John Day: Operate the pool within a 2-foot band during the treaty fishing period.

CRITFC will notify the Corps with specific times for the tribal fishery after a Compact hearing.

JUSTIFICATION
The 2019 summer treaty fishing season is of critical importance to CRITFC’s member tribes. The run sizes (Columbia River at Bonneville Dam) of an estimated 36,300 (below average) adult summer Upper Columbia chinook, and 94,000 sockeye (below average) will create harvest opportunities for tribal fishers who will exercise their treaty rights by participating in this harvest using platform and gillnet fishing methods. This harvest will provide for the cultural, religious, and economic needs of the treaty tribes.

CRITFC will sponsor net flights each week to count the set-nets in each Zone 6 pool. The survey data will be shared with COE-RCC staff by early afternoon of the flight day.

Achieving good river conditions through managed river operations during the treaty fishery has been the basis of past litigation that have been supported by federal courts and are consistent with the trust and fiduciary responsibilities that the federal operators have with respect to CRITFC’s member tribes.

2. Requester(s) CRITFC
3. TMT Recommendation June 19, 2019, TMT Meeting.

CRITFC, presented SOR 2019-C1 (posted on TMT website) submitted by CRITFC to the Corps and BPA last week. The SOR requests to operate the Lower Columbia pools for the summer 2019 treaty fishery. Specifications include operating Bonneville and the Dalles pools within a 1.5-foot band and John Day within a 2-foot band during the time periods of June 17 at 0600 hours to June 22 at 1800 hours, and June 24 at 0600 hours to June 26 at 1800 hours. Kyle noted that estimated runs so far at Bonneville Dam are 36,300 adult summer Chinook and 94,000 sockeye, which are both below average. CRITFC will be running a series of net flights each week and will share the survey data with Action Agencies. Kyle also emphasized that June 15-27, will be exclusively for ceremonial and subsistence fishery for the Tribes, followed by the commercial season, which is very short this year. Operations for this SOR are currently being implemented.

4. AA Decision The Action Agencies decided to implment SOR 2019-C1 as coordinated during the June 19, 2019, TMT meeting.
5. IT Recommendation  
6. AA decision (post IT)  
7. Actual Implemented Operation The Corps implemented the SOR in coordination with the CRITFC and the TMT. Specific hourly data regarding these operations may be found on the following website. http://www.nwd-wc.usace.army.mil/dd/common/dataquery/www/
8. If different from AA decision, why?  
D2019-1   Top of Page
9-July-2019 2019-1 NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nez Perce Tribe, Colville Tribes, and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Dworshak Dam Discharge Management
1. SOR Request OBJECTIVE
Utilize Dworshak Dam discharge to not exceed 68°F temperature in the Lower Granite tailrace while conserving water for use in September.

SPECIFICATIONS
This SOR seeks to have Dworshak summer (July and August) discharge management prioritize temperature management when allocating available water. As such, 1,535’ on August 31 should be viewed/treated as the limit for maximum drawdown, not as a target. After August 31, water above the 1,535’ elevation (if any) would be added onto the Snake River Basin Adjudication Dworshak Dam release of 200 Kaf and used to extend water temperature management as far into September as possible, while still achieving a 1,520’ pool elevation by September 30.

JUSTIFICATION
The 2019 Columbia River System Biological Opinion includes proposed actions relative to Dworshak Dam summer water discharge that target both water temperature cooling in the lower Snake River and flow augmentation. Reducing summer water temperatures in the lower Snake River benefits juvenile fall Chinook salmon emigration and rearing, as well as adult sockeye, spring/summer Chinook, steelhead, and fall Chinook migration. Fisheries managers support the use of Dworshak discharge to meet the Lower Granite Dam tail-water temperature criteria to not exceed 68°F between July 1 and August 31. However, there are also biological benefits for applying cooling water for adult migrants in September. Cool water releases in September maintain a cool migratory corridor and holding areas in the lower Snake River below Lewiston, Idaho, and in the Clearwater River (including fish being held at Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery) for pre-spawn adult salmon, steelhead, and lamprey.
2. Requester(s) NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nez Perce Tribe, Colville Tribes, and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
3. TMT Recommendation July 17, 2019, TMT Meeting.

NOAA presented the SOR during the July 17 TMT meeting. The Corps decided to implement the SOR.
4. AA Decision The Corps decided to implement the SOR.
5. IT Recommendation  
6. AA decision (post IT)  
7. Actual Implemented Operation The Corps will update this section after August 31, 2019.
8. If different from AA decision, why?  
D2019 C-2   Top of Page
13-August-2019 2019 C-2 CRITFC Operation of the Lower Columbia Pools for the fall 2019 Treaty Fishery
1. SOR Request SPECIFICATIONS
The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), on behalf of its members, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, requests the following (Zone 6) reservoir operations (BON to MCN dams) during the fall 2019 Treaty fishery. This effort supports the 2019 ceremonial, subsistence, and commercial Treaty fishery times as set by the tribes and the Columbia River Compact.

Implement the following pool operations, as follows: Monday, August 26, 2019, 6 am, through Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 6 pm Monday, September 2, 2019, 6 am, through Thursday, September 5, 2019, 6 pm Bonneville: Operate the pool within a 1.5 foot band during the treaty fishing period. The Dalles: Operate the pool within a 1.5 foot band during the treaty fishing period. John Day: Operate the pool within a 1.5 foot band during the treaty fishing period.

CRITFC will notify the Corps with specific times for the tribal fishery after a Compact hearing.

JUSTIFICATION
The 2019 fall treaty fishing season is of critical importance to CRITFC’s member tribes. The run sizes (Columbia River at Bonneville Dam) of an estimated 229,000 adult fall chinook (below 10-year average), 118,000 A and B-Index steelhead (below 10-year average), and 180,000 coho (above 10-year average) will create harvest opportunities for tribal fishers who will exercise their treaty rights by participating in this harvest using platform and gillnet fishing methods. This harvest will provide for the cultural, religious, and economic needs of the treaty tribes.

CRITFC will sponsor net flights each week to count the set-nets in each Zone 6 pool. The survey data will be shared with COE-RCC staff by early afternoon of the flight day.

Achieving good river conditions through managed river operations during the treaty fishery has been the basis of past litigation that have been supported by federal courts and are consistent with the trust and fiduciary responsibilities that the federal operators have with respect to CRITFC’s member tribes.

2. Requester(s) CRITFC
3. TMT Recommendation August 14, 2019, TMT Meeting.

CRITFC, presented SOR 2019-C2 (posted on the TMT website) for the fall treaty fishing season. The request is to operate the John Day, The Dalles, and Bonneville pools at a 1.5-foot operating band starting August 26 at 0600 hours to August 28 at 1800 hours, and September 2 at 0600 hours to September 5 at 1800 hours. Estimated run size passing Bonneville Dam are 229,000 adult fall Chinook and 118,000 steelhead, which are both below the 10-year average, and 180,000 Coho, which is above the 10-year average. As fish runs are down this year, the fishing season will be shorter than normal, ranging from 2-3 day periods. The, Corps, clarified that the John Day pool will be implemented to target a 1.5-foot operating range as a soft constraint, while maintaining a 2-foot range as a hard constraint. The, Corps, said that the Corps plans on implementing the SOR as requested.

4. AA Decision The Action Agencies decided to implment SOR 2019-C2 as coordinated during the August 14, 2019, TMT meeting.
5. IT Recommendation  
6. AA decision (post IT)  
7. Actual Implemented Operation The Corps implemented the SOR in coordination with the CRITFC and the TMT. Specific hourly data regarding these operations may be found on the following website. http://www.nwd-wc.usace.army.mil/dd/common/dataquery/www/
8. If different from AA decision, why?