text to display. (https://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/post/judge-redden-talks-salmon-case#stream/0). Some of us just want to live our lives without tree and salmon huggers intruding has on our god given freedom. Agricultural runoff from farms and ranches in the Snake River Plain and many other areas has crippled the ecology of the river. The Snake River dams in Washington would stay in place under the federal government’s preferred plan for the Columbia River System. Salmon, and the Snake River Dams Europeans were farming wheat along the Lower Snake as early as the late 1800’s. over the ECONW report,  the face of agriculture in Eastern Washington would go unmarred if the dams came down. From the study: “The Lower Snake River Dams supply a small share of the energy needs for the Pacific Northwest region, and account for less power than BPA currently exports to other regions.”. Runoff from feedlots was dumped into the river until laws made the practice illegal. To estimate how much more they would pay, ECONW analyzed the average annual barge loadings at the ports along the Snake River and reallocated them to trucks or trains given the relative costs for each mode. After the first irrigation dams on the river began operation in the first decade of the 20th century, most arable land bordering the Snake River was cultivated or turned to pasture, and agricultural return flows began to pollute the Snake. Orca champions have joined forces with dam busters, bringing new energy to an old fight to take down the Lower Snake River dams. ECONorthwest used the Corps estimated costs as the midpoint of the range of future removal costs. In this May 15, 2019, file photo, the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River is seen from the air near Colfax, Washington. Clearwater and Salmon, two Snake River tributaries. … You would not guess it from the words of conservative political leaders along the Snake, though. Working with a broad coalition of non-profit, government, private, and individual partners, we use the NPDES permitting process, Total Maximum Daily Load (“TMDL”) designation, and the antidegradation program to help develop pollution control and cleanup projects that restore impaired waterways and protect pristine waterways. But an irrigation specialist estimated that it would cost $148 million to plan, permit and replace the 41 diversions at the new water level after the dams were breached and $12 million extra to deepen or replace the 84 wells. If grain growers were forced to absorb higher shipping costs, the increase looks small in the context of the regional grain market. Some of the uses are at odds: navigation to and from Lewiston, Idaho, the West’s most inland port, irrigation for growers along the Snake, the balance of renewable energy, the survival of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, tribal treaty rights, sport and commercial fishing and recreation. If they can’t get their wheat to market……what do they grow instead? The average annual market value of Washington’s wheat and barley crops for the last ten years is $862 million. There are no canals delivering flood irrigation water from diversions on the Lower Snake. Killing the river so someone can sell more wheat to china is ridiculous. (The value of wild salmon make that expense worthwhile, I argued in the. The lower Snake River dams have enabled large quantities of grain to be shipped by barge from Lewiston, Idaho all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River, 465 miles away, making the ninth-largest city in the nation’s 39th most populous state the West Coast’s farthest-inland port. The dams generate electricity, allow cargo to be moved on river barges and provide irrigation water to farmers. SPOKANE, Wash. — The U.S. government announced Friday that four huge dams on the Snake River in Washington state will not be removed to help endangered salmon migrate to the Part IV: What Would Removing the Dams do to Jobs? Too much wheat is as bad as not enough. Congress and Bonneville to decide fate of lower Snake River dams. During low water, algae blooms occur throughout the calm stretches of the river, depleting its oxygen supply. Learn more about the Snake River dams’ role in our region’s clean energy portfolio. How about a healthy balance of wheat and salmon instead of just wheat. Its watershed is the 10th largest among North American rivers, and covers almost 108,000 square miles (280,000 km ) in portions of six U.S. states: Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, and Washington, with the largest portion in Idaho. The Snake River dams, called run-of-the-river dams because of their limited storage capacity, are shallower than other dams on the Columbia, allowing for temperatures to build during summer heat. Regarding irrigators in the Columbia-Snake basin, removal of the four lower Snake River dams could actually take pressure off upriver irrigators in Idaho, who under an aggressive non-dam-removal plan would need to let more water remain in the river to mitigate for the effects of the dams. Dam advocates say the Snake River dams are far too important for transportation, irrigation and power needs. The cornerstone of our work is a litigation strategy intended to force compliance with the intent and letter of the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws. Hundreds of facilities dump millions of gallons of pollutants into the Snake River and its tributaries every year. The dams generate electricity, allow cargo to be moved on river barges and provide irrigation water to farmers. Instead, the ECONW study estimated a cost of breaching by considering a dam that needed the concrete structure removed. Grain growers have recently averaged annual shipments of about 2.2 million tons per year downriver. Where are these factory farms? Sightline Institute's work is made possible by the generosity of people like you! Pie in the sky with lots of key slices missing. The most likely scenario is that wheat that is currently trucked to Lewiston Idaho for barging would instead be trucked to Pasco and loaded on to barges there. Let’s take them in turn. By slowing the flow and increasing the surface area exposed to the sun, the dams cause the Snake River to increase as much as 5.7 degrees, according to the report. The shift from barge to truck or train would increase costs for some grain growers. In the last 10 years, the revenue per acre of wheat has an average year to year variation of more than 20 percent as crop yields and prices swing in response to weather and market forces. The cost could exceed a billion dollars. I have seen costs of $300 to $3000 per rail car when other commodities are in demand like oil, coal or containers shipping via rail. Before the National Environmental Policy Act (1969), the massive federal dam-building program seemed like a great thing to do. For five decades, the four dams on the lower Snake River have provided water for irrigation, emissions-free hydroelectricity, and 140 miles of flat water for barge passage from Pasco, Washington, to Lewiston, Idaho. In the case of the LSR dams, the concrete structure remains in place. Policymakers could choose to engineer water replacement solutions at no cost to the irrigators using those sources (rather than consider alternative water sources, compensate irrigators financially, invest in water conservation, or let irrigators suffer some from restoring the river—after all, water rights do not entitle anyone to massive federally subsidized dams). They also submerged 63 rapids big enough to have earned themselves names and increased the mortality of … Some of the uses are at odds: navigation to and from Lewiston, Idaho, the West’s most inland port, irrigation for growers along the Snake, the balance of renewable energy, the survival of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, tribal treaty rights, sport and … Since this time the Lower Snake River has been used as a means for getting products to Today fertilizer, manure and other chemicals and pollutants wash into the river and greatly increase the nutrient load of phosphorus, nitrogen, and fecal coliform from failing septic tanks, wastewater treatment plants, broken sewer lines, and animal waste. In total, just 125 water sources out of 230,000 statewide permits managed by Ecology would be affected. In the case of agriculture, it showed that the increased costs to irrigators and grain growers are surprisingly modest. These lower figures were used in the context of a Monte Carlo simulation which accounts for the fact that we don’t know for certain what the future costs of breaching will be. Killing the river so someone can sell more wheat to china is ridiculous. Some of us want to have healthy salmon populations along with all the jobs, food sources and benefits more salmon and a healthier marine ecosystem brings. In spite of the howls of protest over the ECONW report,  the face of agriculture in Eastern Washington would go unmarred if the dams came down. The study also says that some plans to add additional power could increase CO2 emmissions and raise utility bills by a dollar or two for consumers. That would certainly raise costs for wheat farmers but those increased costs are less than the costs of operating the locks at the four dams. All told, on the most generous assumptions, holding irrigators and grain haulers harmless and applying the savings from ending lock operations would cost roughly $80 million or about 7% of the cost of removing the dams. In this May 15, 2019, file photo, the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River is seen from the air near Colfax, Washington. Reasonable people may think those costs are too high but the track record of most projects close to $1 billion is that they go over budget rather than under. Off, 1955-57. We work to promote smart policy ideas and monitor the region's progress towards sustainability. What about all the grain shipped from the Camas Prairie where the rail is gone? The Case for Removing the Snake River Dams, Few Would Lose from Removing Snake River Dams, Breaching the lower Snake River dams and restoring the river would not come cheap. “Right now we have zero participation in Idaho.”14 The most recent EPA status report shows that none of the 365 agency-designated “Large CAFOs” in Idaho – which for Dairy CAFOs means 700 or more mature dairy cows at one site – have CWA permits. Its time to remove the dams, removal benefits more life forms and bring balance back to the region. Answer: virtually nonexistent. You would not guess it from the words of conservative political leaders along the Snake, though. It may be just as simple as suggested by the highly-informed Federal Judge James Redden, “You just dig out the ditch”. If the federal subsidy for barging shifts to trucks and trains, growers’ transportation costs need not increase at all. The four Snake River dams on the lower Snake in southeast Washington were completed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Snake River Waterkeeper volunteers monitor water quality to measure progress towards the goal of “restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters” as expressed in the Clean Water Act. Many return flows do not issue directly back into the Snake River, but rather feed the aquifer beneath. crops for the last ten years is $862 million. www.factoryfarmmap.org. SPOKANE, Wash. — The U.S. government announced Friday that four huge dams on the Snake River in Washington state will not be removed to help endangered salmon migrate to the ocean. We can find replacement power to make up for the relatively small amount provided to the region by the four lower Snake River hydropower dams. Find this article interesting? Rain is non-existent in the state its in now in the LC Valley. In some cases, paying them for their losses would cost less than continuing to operate the dams as at present. 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In 2009, EPA backed out of agreements allowing the state to inspect these facilities on EPA’s behalf due to the close relationship between the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and the industry. Dams, irrigation diversions, pollution, and channel alteration have affected water quality, and over-watering from sprinkler-irrigated portions of the Eastern Snake River Basalt Plains has raised groundwater levels and created artificial wetlands. Using local data on the costs per ton-mile to move grain by barge, train, and truck, ECONW estimated that growers would pay an additional $6.2 million per year in shipping costs. A $6.2 million increase in transportation for those who barge their grain represents an average cost increase that is less than one percent of the region’s grain revenues. Please keep it civil and constructive. Wyoming and basin big sagebrush, alkali … Diversified sustainable food sources are a must. One truck company told me to haul 60,000 pounds of grain from Lewiston to Portland would cost between $900 to $1100 a load one way. Too much wheat is as bad as not enough. Many of Idaho’s 1,392 impaired waterways do not meet water quality standards due to pollutants commonly associated with CAFOs – sediment, nutrients, and pathogens. A $6.2 million increase in transportation for those who barge their grain represents an average cost increase that is less than one percent of the region’s grain revenues. Support more research like this with a year-end gift! Problem displaying Facebook posts.Click to show errorfunction cffShowError() { document.getElementById("cff-error-reason").style.display = "block"; document.getElementById("cff-show-error").style.display = "none"; }, National Waterkeeper Alliance’s “Pure Farms, Pure Water” campaign, Notice Letter to US Army Corp for Dworshak Dam Turbines Violating Clean Water Act, Notice Letter to Idaho Power for Turbine Discharges Violating Clean Water Act. The decision thwarts the desires of environmental groups that fought for two decades to breach the structures. Pesticides and heavy metals also enter the river from agricultural runoff and air deposition. Diversified sustainable food sources are a must. All told, on the most generous assumptions, holding irrigators and grain haulers harmless and applying the savings from ending lock operations would cost roughly $80 million or about 7% of the cost of removing the dams. Water diverted for irrigation absorbs surface pollutants, then re-enters the ground and feeds the aquifer which has become increasingly laced with contaminants. Sightline Institute is non-partisan and does not oppose, support, or endorse any political candidate or party. The lower Snake River dams are all run-of-river dams, which means they don't store water, and thus don't provide any flood control. In 1976 the Teton Dam collapsed, causing disastrous flooding of the upper Snake River valley. After the first irrigation dams on the river began operation in the first decade of the 20th century, most arable land bordering the Snake River was cultivated or turned to pasture, and agricultural return flows began to pollute the Snake. The land has been transformed into an industrial landscape, from which natural features, wetlands, forest patches, and wildlife have been largely obliterated. How about a healthy balance of wheat and salmon instead of just wheat. Stay up to date on the Northwest's most important sustainability issues. Snake River Waterkeeper advocates for more stringent pollution discharge controls, monitors water rights and pollution permits throughout the Basin, opposes permits and transfers that threaten fisheries habitat or clean water, reports violations, and litigates when necessary to compel compliance. Most of the Snake River watershed lies between the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Columbia Plateau on the northwest. If the dams were breached, those grain shipments would either travel by truck to Pasco for barge loading or travel by train to Portland. Water is pumped from the top of the full reservoir to cropland 20-560 feet above the surface of the reservoir. Snake River Waterkeeper uses all available legal and administrative mechanisms available to protect waterways and people who depend on clean water for drinking, fishing, sustenance, health, and recreation. Federal agencies have finalized a plan that will keep the Snake River Dams in place. Sold to China. The Snake River is the thirteenth longest river in the United States. Reducing the supply of wheat will increase wheat prices for the farmers anyway. That means that the loss of dams would require no additional power infrastructure. : Hearings before the Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, United States Senate, Eighty-fourth Congress, first session, on S. 1333, a bill to authorize the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Hells Canyon Dam on the Snake River between Idaho and Oregon, and for related purposes … Washington, DC: U.S. Govt. The new plan says that’s the best option for fish – but too expensive in terms of irrigation, transportation and power generation. But making whole the irrigators and grain barging companies that are the principal beneficiaries of the dams would be surprisingly affordable. Runoff from feedlots was dumped into the river until laws made the practice illegal. The upper Snake River, above King Hill, Idaho, is used for irrigation and hydropower. If barging were to go away as the most cost effective way to get grain to international shippers, rain becomes very expensive. As part of the National Waterkeeper Alliance’s “Pure Farms, Pure Water” campaign, Snake River Waterkeeper engages the courts, legislature, and decision-makers to challenge industrial and agricultural operation to clean up their act, comply with environmental regulations, or face enforcement of the Clean Water Act’s requirements at these harmful sites. Many of these permits are outdated or contain standards that don’t protect the safety of the river or its users. Lower Snake River Dams Stakeholder Engagement Final Report — March 2020 1 Executive Summary Salmon, orca, agriculture and energy are fundamental to Washington’s past and future. Instead of addressing the violations, Idaho passed legislation to guarantee dairies they would not lose their permits for violating the CWA. It … Muddy creeks and sloughs can be restored by simply bringing back the natural canopy to river bottoms and bordering fields with vegetated strips to trap sediment and soak up dissolved fertilizer nutrients. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon in 2016 ordered dam managers to consider removing or altering the four Lower Snake River dams. The lower Snake River dams’ powerhouses save over 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere each year. The tax money we save removing the dams benefits everyone. Not surprisingly, and despite notoriously limited water quality sampling, Idaho DEQ’s most recent report shows 36% of Idaho streams require mandatory TMDLs for failing to meet water quality standards. Some of us want to have healthy salmon populations along with all the jobs, food sources and benefits more salmon and a healthier marine ecosystem brings. Print. statewide permits managed by Ecology would be affected. When in late July, the consulting firm ECONorthwest (ECONW) released its study on the economic tradeoffs of removing the dams on the lower Snake River, US Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse, both Republicans from Eastern Washington, immediately branded the report “a slap in the face of our state’s agricultural economy” adding that “billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements that would be needed for irrigation and transportation hardly come across as a ‘public benefit.’”. The high end is with no back haul. Policymakers could choose to engineer water replacement solutions at no cost to the irrigators using those sources (rather than consider alternative water sources, compensate irrigators financially, invest in water conservation, or let irrigators suffer some from restoring the river—after all, water rights do not entitle anyone to massive federally subsidized dams). If wheat farmers in WA, Oregon and Idaho cant access international wheat export markets, where is the economic impact of that scenario? Some of that pollution is illegal, but Idaho allows some of this pollution through Clean Water Act permits. Make a donation to Sightline now. We can replace barge traffic on the reservoirs behind the dams with rail. I am hopeful that your future stories will consider this important discernment, and perhaps explain why ECONW rejected Twa’s modeling of earthen embankment removal. When in late July, the consulting firm ECONorthwest (ECONW) released, on the economic tradeoffs of removing the dams on the lower Snake River, US Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse, both Republicans from Eastern Washington, immediately, the report “a slap in the face of our state’s agricultural economy” adding that “billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements that would be needed for irrigation and transportation hardly come across as a ‘public benefit.’”, Using water permit data from the Department of Ecology, ECONW identified 41 surface water diversions and 84 groundwater wells that could be affected by the drop in water levels if the dams were removed. Remarkably, the annual budget for operating the locks at the four dams is $21 million per year; the federal government spends one dollar operating the locks so grain shippers can save 30 cents on shipping. EPA regulators in Idaho have openly acknowledged that the industry is not in compliance with the CWA. ECONorthwest evaluated a broad range of costs for breaching the dams including costs that were one-third of those developed by the Corp of Engineers in 2002. The Snake River, and the communities who depend on it, face serious threats from toxic pollution. « Snake River Dams’ Hydropower Is No Longer Particularly Cheap, Restoring the Snake River Is a Jobs Program », https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyGbgyPLDmc, https://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/post/judge-redden-talks-salmon-case#stream/0. These combined costs are about 12 percent of the estimated costs of removing the dams—not small numbers but certainly within the range of mitigation costs that have been part of other large public projects. In total, just 125 water sources out of. I doubt it cause you whont have Trucks or Trains hailing these lost shipments duh. The ECONW study greatly exaggerated the cost of breaching the Lower Snake River (LSR) dams. With a little leadership and creativity, we can extend irrigation infrastructure to withdraw water from a free-flowing river. The ECONW study took a bean counter’s approach to weighing the pros and cons of dam removal. Lower Granite Dam by Moosealope used under CC BY 2.0. In some cases, paying them for their losses would cost less than continuing to operate the dams as at present. The federal Clean Water Act is the bedrock of our work to protect Snake River Basin rivers, streams, and tributaries. Proper application of the Clean Water Act could bring these regions back to balance with only minimal adjustments in land use. Using water permit data from the Department of Ecology, ECONW identified 41 surface water diversions and 84 groundwater wells that could be affected by the drop in water levels if the dams were removed. It’s time for factory farms to comply with the Clean Water Act. Part I: An Overview of the Pros and Cons of Removing Snake River Dams, Part II: Dams’ Hydropower Is No Longer Particularly Cheap. The tax money we save removing the dams benefits everyone. What is they are lost forever? The largest tributary of the Columbia River, the Snake River watershed makes up about 4… .) Due to the lack of water storage, the dams also don't offer much in the way of irrigation. In spite of the. (The value of wild salmon make that expense worthwhile, I argued in the first article of this series.) The lower Snake River dams have touched on each of these topics since they were … Creating a more diverse landscape by restoring natural patterns of streams and rivers would draw wildlife back to land, provide clear and clean water, restore downstream fisheries, and begin the process of reviving our bays and estuaries.– Bruce Babbit in “At Water’s Edge” from Cities in the Wilderness (2005). © 2021 Sightline Institute. The dams provide renewable hydropower and irrigation and facilitate navigation of barge traffic from the mouth of the river upstream to Lewiston, … Report water quality violations and illegal river pollution here or call (208) 806-1303. An Overview of the Pros and Cons of Removing Snake River Dams, Dams’ Hydropower Is No Longer Particularly Cheap. Rail is non-existent in the capacity to handle 40 million bushels a year there just from the LC Valley. If the dams were breached or removed, it would take several coal- or gas-fired power plants to replace them. Given the alternatives for moving grain from the Palouse, wheat and barley would still find their way to market without barges on the lower Snake River. The cost could exceed a billion dollars. It allows for more springtime spill over dams to help juvenile salmon migrating out to the Pacific Ocean. All Rights Reserved. Natural vegetation is mostly sagebrush and bunchgrass, but low terraces have salt tolerant plants. For example, the Legislature has limited which citizens can comment on CAFO siting, prohibited a state agency from considering odors and health impacts in water permitting, criminalized certain videotaping and photographing of agricultural operations, provided CAFO’s with protection from nuisance lawsuits, and prohibited oversight of CAFO waste management plans by declaring them “proprietary.” Reviews of waste management plans prior to the secrecy laws demonstrated widespread violations of state and federal land application standards. Every day, thousands of pipes buried under and along the Snake River discharge hundreds of pounds of toxic pollution from cities, industry, and dirty stormwater run-off. Support more research like this with a year-end gift! The Snake River dams in Washington would remain in place under a final study released Friday, July 31, by federal agencies. They symbolize who we are as residents of the Pacific Northwest and define our communities and our economy. Most trucks like to have a back haul to cover their costs. Incomplete economic studies are not worth the paper they are printed on just like the Vulcan study. Lower Granite Dam is actually regarded to increase flood risk to Lewiston, Idaho. If grain growers were forced to absorb higher shipping costs, the increase looks small in the context of the regional grain market. All of these agricultural reservoir users are pumping their irrigation water. Grossly inaccurate on costs for shipping. Snake River Waterkeeper is working to regain healthy waterways by demanding agency accountability through application of science and law. The Snake River region hosts an extremely high density of cattle and pig confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), in which animals are restricted to feeding pens in dirt lots. The current shipping system is faster and more environmentally friendly than adding thousands of semi-tractors to our roads. In some cases, paying them for their losses would cost less than continuing to operate the dams as at present. I bet none of you actually know a thing about farming. The average annual market value of Washington’s. That’s more than $.30 to $.35 cents. Downriver grain shipment makes up the majority of barge traffic on the lower Snake River. To find more articles on Sustainable Living. Even using costs of dam removal that some argue are too high, the case for dam removal remains strong. You may add a link with HTML: text to display. (https://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/post/judge-redden-talks-salmon-case#stream/0). Some of us just want to live our lives without tree and salmon huggers intruding has on our god given freedom. Agricultural runoff from farms and ranches in the Snake River Plain and many other areas has crippled the ecology of the river. The Snake River dams in Washington would stay in place under the federal government’s preferred plan for the Columbia River System. Salmon, and the Snake River Dams Europeans were farming wheat along the Lower Snake as early as the late 1800’s. over the ECONW report,  the face of agriculture in Eastern Washington would go unmarred if the dams came down. From the study: “The Lower Snake River Dams supply a small share of the energy needs for the Pacific Northwest region, and account for less power than BPA currently exports to other regions.”. Runoff from feedlots was dumped into the river until laws made the practice illegal. To estimate how much more they would pay, ECONW analyzed the average annual barge loadings at the ports along the Snake River and reallocated them to trucks or trains given the relative costs for each mode. After the first irrigation dams on the river began operation in the first decade of the 20th century, most arable land bordering the Snake River was cultivated or turned to pasture, and agricultural return flows began to pollute the Snake. Orca champions have joined forces with dam busters, bringing new energy to an old fight to take down the Lower Snake River dams. ECONorthwest used the Corps estimated costs as the midpoint of the range of future removal costs. In this May 15, 2019, file photo, the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River is seen from the air near Colfax, Washington. Clearwater and Salmon, two Snake River tributaries. … You would not guess it from the words of conservative political leaders along the Snake, though. Working with a broad coalition of non-profit, government, private, and individual partners, we use the NPDES permitting process, Total Maximum Daily Load (“TMDL”) designation, and the antidegradation program to help develop pollution control and cleanup projects that restore impaired waterways and protect pristine waterways. But an irrigation specialist estimated that it would cost $148 million to plan, permit and replace the 41 diversions at the new water level after the dams were breached and $12 million extra to deepen or replace the 84 wells. If grain growers were forced to absorb higher shipping costs, the increase looks small in the context of the regional grain market. Some of the uses are at odds: navigation to and from Lewiston, Idaho, the West’s most inland port, irrigation for growers along the Snake, the balance of renewable energy, the survival of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, tribal treaty rights, sport and commercial fishing and recreation. If they can’t get their wheat to market……what do they grow instead? The average annual market value of Washington’s wheat and barley crops for the last ten years is $862 million. There are no canals delivering flood irrigation water from diversions on the Lower Snake. Killing the river so someone can sell more wheat to china is ridiculous. (The value of wild salmon make that expense worthwhile, I argued in the. The lower Snake River dams have enabled large quantities of grain to be shipped by barge from Lewiston, Idaho all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River, 465 miles away, making the ninth-largest city in the nation’s 39th most populous state the West Coast’s farthest-inland port. The dams generate electricity, allow cargo to be moved on river barges and provide irrigation water to farmers. SPOKANE, Wash. — The U.S. government announced Friday that four huge dams on the Snake River in Washington state will not be removed to help endangered salmon migrate to the Part IV: What Would Removing the Dams do to Jobs? Too much wheat is as bad as not enough. Congress and Bonneville to decide fate of lower Snake River dams. During low water, algae blooms occur throughout the calm stretches of the river, depleting its oxygen supply. Learn more about the Snake River dams’ role in our region’s clean energy portfolio. How about a healthy balance of wheat and salmon instead of just wheat. Its watershed is the 10th largest among North American rivers, and covers almost 108,000 square miles (280,000 km ) in portions of six U.S. states: Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, and Washington, with the largest portion in Idaho. The Snake River dams, called run-of-the-river dams because of their limited storage capacity, are shallower than other dams on the Columbia, allowing for temperatures to build during summer heat. Regarding irrigators in the Columbia-Snake basin, removal of the four lower Snake River dams could actually take pressure off upriver irrigators in Idaho, who under an aggressive non-dam-removal plan would need to let more water remain in the river to mitigate for the effects of the dams. Dam advocates say the Snake River dams are far too important for transportation, irrigation and power needs. The cornerstone of our work is a litigation strategy intended to force compliance with the intent and letter of the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws. Hundreds of facilities dump millions of gallons of pollutants into the Snake River and its tributaries every year. The dams generate electricity, allow cargo to be moved on river barges and provide irrigation water to farmers. Instead, the ECONW study estimated a cost of breaching by considering a dam that needed the concrete structure removed. Grain growers have recently averaged annual shipments of about 2.2 million tons per year downriver. Where are these factory farms? Sightline Institute's work is made possible by the generosity of people like you! Pie in the sky with lots of key slices missing. The most likely scenario is that wheat that is currently trucked to Lewiston Idaho for barging would instead be trucked to Pasco and loaded on to barges there. Let’s take them in turn. By slowing the flow and increasing the surface area exposed to the sun, the dams cause the Snake River to increase as much as 5.7 degrees, according to the report. The shift from barge to truck or train would increase costs for some grain growers. In the last 10 years, the revenue per acre of wheat has an average year to year variation of more than 20 percent as crop yields and prices swing in response to weather and market forces. The cost could exceed a billion dollars. I have seen costs of $300 to $3000 per rail car when other commodities are in demand like oil, coal or containers shipping via rail. Before the National Environmental Policy Act (1969), the massive federal dam-building program seemed like a great thing to do. For five decades, the four dams on the lower Snake River have provided water for irrigation, emissions-free hydroelectricity, and 140 miles of flat water for barge passage from Pasco, Washington, to Lewiston, Idaho. In the case of the LSR dams, the concrete structure remains in place. Policymakers could choose to engineer water replacement solutions at no cost to the irrigators using those sources (rather than consider alternative water sources, compensate irrigators financially, invest in water conservation, or let irrigators suffer some from restoring the river—after all, water rights do not entitle anyone to massive federally subsidized dams). They also submerged 63 rapids big enough to have earned themselves names and increased the mortality of … Some of the uses are at odds: navigation to and from Lewiston, Idaho, the West’s most inland port, irrigation for growers along the Snake, the balance of renewable energy, the survival of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, tribal treaty rights, sport and … Since this time the Lower Snake River has been used as a means for getting products to Today fertilizer, manure and other chemicals and pollutants wash into the river and greatly increase the nutrient load of phosphorus, nitrogen, and fecal coliform from failing septic tanks, wastewater treatment plants, broken sewer lines, and animal waste. In total, just 125 water sources out of 230,000 statewide permits managed by Ecology would be affected. In the case of agriculture, it showed that the increased costs to irrigators and grain growers are surprisingly modest. These lower figures were used in the context of a Monte Carlo simulation which accounts for the fact that we don’t know for certain what the future costs of breaching will be. Killing the river so someone can sell more wheat to china is ridiculous. Some of us want to have healthy salmon populations along with all the jobs, food sources and benefits more salmon and a healthier marine ecosystem brings. In spite of the howls of protest over the ECONW report,  the face of agriculture in Eastern Washington would go unmarred if the dams came down. The study also says that some plans to add additional power could increase CO2 emmissions and raise utility bills by a dollar or two for consumers. That would certainly raise costs for wheat farmers but those increased costs are less than the costs of operating the locks at the four dams. All told, on the most generous assumptions, holding irrigators and grain haulers harmless and applying the savings from ending lock operations would cost roughly $80 million or about 7% of the cost of removing the dams. In this May 15, 2019, file photo, the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River is seen from the air near Colfax, Washington. Reasonable people may think those costs are too high but the track record of most projects close to $1 billion is that they go over budget rather than under. Off, 1955-57. We work to promote smart policy ideas and monitor the region's progress towards sustainability. What about all the grain shipped from the Camas Prairie where the rail is gone? The Case for Removing the Snake River Dams, Few Would Lose from Removing Snake River Dams, Breaching the lower Snake River dams and restoring the river would not come cheap. “Right now we have zero participation in Idaho.”14 The most recent EPA status report shows that none of the 365 agency-designated “Large CAFOs” in Idaho – which for Dairy CAFOs means 700 or more mature dairy cows at one site – have CWA permits. Its time to remove the dams, removal benefits more life forms and bring balance back to the region. Answer: virtually nonexistent. You would not guess it from the words of conservative political leaders along the Snake, though. It may be just as simple as suggested by the highly-informed Federal Judge James Redden, “You just dig out the ditch”. If the federal subsidy for barging shifts to trucks and trains, growers’ transportation costs need not increase at all. The four Snake River dams on the lower Snake in southeast Washington were completed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Snake River Waterkeeper volunteers monitor water quality to measure progress towards the goal of “restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters” as expressed in the Clean Water Act. Many return flows do not issue directly back into the Snake River, but rather feed the aquifer beneath. crops for the last ten years is $862 million. www.factoryfarmmap.org. SPOKANE, Wash. — The U.S. government announced Friday that four huge dams on the Snake River in Washington state will not be removed to help endangered salmon migrate to the ocean. We can find replacement power to make up for the relatively small amount provided to the region by the four lower Snake River hydropower dams. Find this article interesting? Rain is non-existent in the state its in now in the LC Valley. In some cases, paying them for their losses would cost less than continuing to operate the dams as at present. 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