DISPOSITION OF 2022 SORs

D2022-1   D2022-2-BON-B2CC   D2022-2-USFWS   D2022-4  

 

D2022-1   Top of Page
12-January-2022 2022-1 FPAC Vice-Chair Clarifying the frequency of zero-generation operations of the four Lower Snake River dams
1. SOR Request SPECIFICATIONS:
We request that the following clarification be used to guide the frequency of zero-generation operation implementation:

• Zero-generation at any single dam on the Lower Snake River will be implemented no more than 1 out of every 3 to 5 days, between the date of initiation (see SOR 2021-6) until the last day of February.

JUSTIFICATION:
The Term Sheet for Stay NWF v. NMFS, ECF 2411-1 (3:01-cv-00640-SI) includes implementation of zero generation operations per date and abundance criteria described in SOR 2021-6. These criteria were met on December 17 in 2021. Zero generation operations post December 17th should be consistent with anticipated usage of “one out of every 3 to 5 days at each project” as described in the 2020 CRSO BA p 2-63 (pdf p. 98):

“Between October 15 and February 28, when power market conditions warrant and when river conditions make it feasible, power generation at Snake River projects may cease during nighttime hours, most commonly implemented between 2300 and 0500 hours when demand for power is lowest and other renewable resources are generating surplus power (or both). This operation will end no later than 2 hours before dawn between October 15 and November 30. During the operation between December 15 and February 28, daytime hours will no longer be excluded from this operation, and up to 3 hours of daytime cessation will be part of the Proposed Action. This shift in current operation would allow operators to save water in low demand periods to use for hydropower generation during higher demand periods. The timing and need for ceasing power generation during this period of time is difficult to predict. However, based on previous operations between December 15 and February 28 and during nighttime hours only, Bonneville estimates the use of this operation may occur one out of every 3 to 5 days at each project. See the WMP21 for additional details.” (emphasis added)

Actual implementation by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) during winter 2020-2021 or winter 2021-2022 does not conform with a reasonable interpretation of “one out of every 3 to 5 days” (i.e., 33% - 20% of days). Rather, implementation has been as much as every day between December 22, 2021 and January 8, 2022. At past TMT meetings, BPA has repeated that their intent was to match historical usage of this operation, but the Proposed Action and other guiding documents do not adequately describe historical usage. Instead, the language refers to one out of every 3 to 5 days (see excerpt from 2020 BA above). Operating in extreme exceedance of this description is inconsistent with the Proposed Action.
2. Requester(s) Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission/Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Nez Perce Tribe, Spokane Tribe of Indians, Yakama Nation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
3. TMT Recommendation January 19, 2022, TMT Meeting.

Tom Lorz, CRITFC, reported on SOR 2022-1, which requests clarification on the frequency of zero-generation operations of the four Lower Snake River dams (posted to the TMT website). Specifically, it requests language clarification to include that zero generation at any single dam on the Lower Snake River will be implemented no more than 1 out of every 3-5 days, between the date of initiation until the last day of February.

The BiOp included a broader date range for the operation, which was adjusted in the Agreement on 2022 Operations. Tom shared that from the SOR signatories’ perspective, the sideboards of the operation need to be clarified to address what partners are seeing as inconsistencies between the description analyzed in the BiOp and what is being implemented.

TMT Members were polled on the SOR, with some providing additional rationale for their responses:

o NOAA = Abstain. NOAA evaluated the operation based on historical implementation in recent years and assessment of biological risk; NOAA did not interpret the proposed action as specifying that the operation will not be done on consecutive days or more in 1 out of every 3-5 days. As of today’s date, BPA’s implementation is within historic range of usage and within the allowable range described in SOR 2002-22, and recent water management plans; NOAA doesn’t anticipate any risk to juvenile fall Chinook or adult steelhead beyond those already considered in the BiOp. NOAA will continue to monitor implementation in-season and post-season.

o OR = Supports. Oregon supports the SOR and believes it important because it revisits past discussions on this operation. There is uncertainty surrounding evaluation, sideboards, and decision-making, that, from Oregon’s perspective, do not provide support for the protection of listed species. Oregon believes the SOR addresses what would be expected to occur based on guiding federal documents, and that current activity is out of the operational sideboards.

o WA = Supports. Washington believes that clarification and further discussion on the operational expectations are needed and will benefit all involved.

o Umatilla Tribe = Supports. No additional comments.

o Reclamation = Abstain. No additional comments.

o Corps = Supports. No additional comments.

o USFWS = Abstain. USFWS abstained and is reserving judgement until after new video monitoring data via the Corps is analyzed from the fish ladders at Lower Monumental and Little Goose Dams. When USFWS evaluated this operation for the BiOp, the focus was on bull trout, which have very limited data during the winter months due to lack of monitoring.

o ID = Abstain. Idaho generally agrees that it would be helpful to clarify the language in the proposed action to better reflect how the AAs intend/expect to operate.

o MT = Abstain. Montana wants to further understand the biological implications of the operation and requested more information on this.

o BPA = Abstain. No additional comments.

o The Nez Perce and Spokane Tribes were signatories to the SOR; however, were not present to provide a polling response/rationale during the meeting. The Colville, Kootenai, and Warm Springs Tribes were not present to register a polling response.
4. AA Decision January 19, 2022, TMT Meeting.

The Action Agencies need to vet the SOR internally and requested a TMT meeting be added to the calendar for January 26 at 9:00AM. At that time, the AAs will provide a response to the SOR.

o ACTION: Jonathan Ebel, ID & FPAC Chair, will follow up with Brian Marotz, MT, and provide additional information regarding the operation’s biological impacts, with the caveat that the basin’s monitoring structure is not operating right now, so behavior for overwintering fish in the system is unknown.

o ACTION: The AAs will meet internally to discuss the SOR, with the intention of providing a response on January 26.

o ACTION: A TMT meeting will be scheduled for January 26 at 9:00AM.

January 26, 2022, TMT Meeting.

Following the introduction and discussion of SOR: 2022-1 at the January 19 TMT meeting, Action Agencies requested additional time to discuss the SOR internally and prepare a response. The SOR sought further clarification on zero generation operations of the four Lower Snake River dams.

Action Agency Response. Tony Norris BPA, reported the official response from AAs (posted to the TMT website). AAs estimate the expected future use of zero generation on the lower Snake River projects to be consistent with the historical use during the period since 2004, and as modified in the litigation stay agreement (see Term Sheet link below). This use can range from several consecutive days of use to very little use across the 4 Lower Snake River projects during the period of available days and hours as described in the Water Management Plan (WMP).

Regarding the final sentence of the Conclusion within the AAs’ response, it was stated that the AAs, “will not entertain future SORs or requests that seek only to revisit prior operations agreed to in the Term Sheet,” Tony clarified that this does not preclude SORs that have new information or are in response to in-season conditions that could benefit from adaptive management. However, AAs will not entertain SORs that revisit prior operations agreed to in the Term Sheet.

Additional TMT Questions & Comments. It was clarified that the SOR did not request a change in operation, instead, it requested clarifying language on the sideboards that AAs anticipate for the frequency of implementation of zero generation operations. The intention of the clarification is to help manage expectations of the frequency of the operation. Co-managers were appreciative of the clarification that the AAs’ response provided, however, there were still some areas that they felt needed more clarity

Charles Morrill, WA, noted that specifically co-managers are looking for clarification on the existing language (in the AAs’ Proposed Action) of “1 out of every 3-5 days,” and sideboards, emphasizing that from some co-managers’ perspective, this statement does not accurately reflect what is being implemented. Tony noted that zero generation is used with flexibility when power market and river conditions are conducive to its use. He noted that from the AAs’ perspective, it is within historical range to use zero generation operations on consecutive days, and they do not have a daily limit. Jay Hesse, Nez Perce Tribe, acknowledged that BPA’s scale for measuring is multi-year averages, which Tony confirmed. Jay expressed that from the Nez Perce Tribe’s perspective, there are differing descriptions in the various guiding documents and revising language would be helpful.

Claire McGrath, NOAA, also noted that in their analysis, NOAA assumed that zero generation operations would be consistent with historical use and will continue to be applied when market and river conditions warrant. This assumes that market and river conditions do not experience any significant changes - which NOAA has not seen to date.

It was noted that the effects of the operation on the river ecosystem is a concern for fish managers, however, they are unable to evaluate effects because there are no monitoring systems in place. However, fish managers are concerned with ponding the riverine system, as it is generally bad for fish movement. (Jay pointed out that this SOR does not address the biological effects and Claire McGrath, NOAA, pointed those interested to the September 15, 2021 TMT meeting minutes for description of how NOAA analyzed potential effects.)

There was discussion on the condition of the river during zero generation operations. Tony noted that the river is still flowing, as the slope and length of the system allows for water to stop passing a project but continue to flow downstream to the next project. Jay reflected that water flow at the project stops during the operation, as does fish passage through the project.

Tony clarified that AAs are not intending to shut down technical discussions on operations, and that if new information or in-season conditions warrant operational changes, SORs will be considered. Pre-coordination on SORs may be necessary to ensure that the intent is clear for all.

ACTION: Tony will relay to the BPA Policy team the input that he has heard from TMT partners regarding further clarification and concerns with the Conclusion. If there are additional language changes, Tony will bring that back to TMT.

Additional information regarding this meeting may be found in the meeting minutes on the following website.

https://pweb.crohms.org/tmt/agendas/2022/0126_Minutes.pdf
5. IT Recommendation  
6. AA decision (post IT)  
7. Actual Implemented Operation January 26, 2022, TMT Meeting.

Tony clarified that AAs are not intending to shut down technical discussions on operations, and that if new information or in-season conditions warrant operational changes, SORs will be considered. Pre-coordination on SORs may be necessary to ensure that the intent is clear for all.

ACTION: Tony will relay to the BPA Policy team the input that he has heard from TMT partners regarding further clarification and concerns with the Conclusion. If there are additional language changes, Tony will bring that back to TMT.
8. If different from AA decision, why?  
D2022-2-BON-B2CC   Top of Page
15-March-2022 2022-2-BON-B2CC Jonathan Ebel, FPAC Chair Operation of the Bonneville Corner Collector for Spring Creek NFH Emergency Release
1. SOR Request SPECIFICATIONS:
We are requesting that the Bonneville Corner Collector (B2CC) remain open until 13:00 March 20th to help improve the dam passage survival of the emergency release of 10.8 million fall Chinook from Spring Creek NFH.

JUSTIFICATION:
Spring Creek NFH has made an emergency early release of all 10.8 million fall Chinook due to an outbreak of bacterial gill disease, with the last group of ~5.6 million fish released on March 14th. Since this release was prior to the normal spring spill period, most of these fish would normally be passing through powerhouse passage routes.

The dates of the emergency release (March 11th-14th) happened to coincide with a period where the B2CC has been open most of the time due to lack of turbine capacity. However, the B2CC is likely to close on March 18th when four turbines at BON PH2 that have been out of service due to maintenance are scheduled to return to service.

Tagging studies show that 90% of Spring Creek NFH fall Chinook pass Bonneville Dam anywhere from one to four days after release, depending on the year (FPC Memo 42-21). However, many of those releases occurred in April and May during the spring spill period, and several studies have shown that early migrating smolts have longer travel times than later migrating smolts, so there is a fair amount of uncertainty around the exact travel time of this release.

We are requesting that the B2CC remain open until 13:00 March 20th to help improve the dam passage survival of this emergency release, as the B2CC has a very high juvenile passage survival rate (Mean: 99%, Range 97.5-100%), based on acoustic tag studies. This extension would keep the B2CC open a full six days since the last release from Spring Creek NFH and should expand the fraction of fish that have this passage route as an option to well above 90%.
2. Requester(s) US Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission/Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Nez Perce Tribe.
3. TMT Recommendation March 16, 2022, TMT Meeting.

Jonathan Ebel, FPAC Chair, presented SOR 2022-2, which requests that the Bonneville Dam Powerhouse 2 Corner Collector (B2CC) remain open until 13:00 on March 20 to help improve the dam passage survival of the emergency release of 10.8 million juvenile fall Chinook from Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery. The emergency release is due to a disease outbreak that infected some, but not all the fish. Dave Swank, USFWS, noted that this request was being made to provide the best possible passage survival for these fish and keeping the B2CC open until this date should provide well over 90% passage of the release. Tom Lorz, CRITFC, noted that not all fish were diseased. There were five ponds of fish (approximately 1.5 million fish) in relatively good condition; however, the decision was made to release all the fish at the same time to avoid further contamination. Tom noted that typically the B2CC would have been open at this time if the kelt criteria were met.

TMT Members were polled on the SOR:

o NOAA = Supports. No additional comments.

o OR = Supports. OR appreciates the support for this operation.

o WA = Supports. No additional comments.

o Umatilla Tribe = Supports. No additional comments.

o Reclamation = Supports. No additional comments.

o Corps = Supports. No additional comments.

o USFWS = Supports. USFWS appreciates the Corps and BPA support for the operation during this highly unusual event at the hatchery.

o ID = Supports. No additional comments.

o MT = Supports. No additional comments.

o Nez = Supports. No additional comments.

o BPA = Supports. No additional comments.

o The Colville, Kootenai, Spokane and Warm Springs Tribes were not present to register a polling response.
4. AA Decision March 16, 2022, TMT Meeting.

The Corps and BPA will implement the SOR as described.

? ACTION: The B2CC will remain open until 13:00 March 20, after which the B2CC will operate as described in the 2022 Fish Passage Plan (FPP).

5. IT Recommendation  
6. AA decision (post IT)  
7. Actual Implemented Operation March 16, 2022, TMT Meeting.

ACTION: The B2CC will remain open until 13:00 March 20, after which the B2CC will operate as described in the 2022 Fish Passage Plan (FPP).

8. If different from AA decision, why?