Managing the Columbia River: Instream Flows, Water Withdrawals, and Salmon Survival

Front Cover
Flows of the Columbia River, although modified substantially during the twentieth century, still vary considerably between seasons and between years. Lowest flows tend to occur during summer months when demand for irrigation water is at its highest and when water temperatures are greatest. These periods of low flows, high demand, and high temperature are critical periods for juvenile salmon migrating downstream through the Columbia River hydropower system.

Although impacts on salmon of any individual water withdrawal may be small, the cumulative effects of numerous withdrawals will affect Columbia River flows and would pose increased risks to salmon survival. The body of scientific knowledge explaining salmon migratory behavior and physiology is substantial, but imperfect, and decision makers should acknowledge this and be willing to take action in the face of uncertainties.

In order to provide a more comprehensive water permitting process, the State of Washington, Canada, other basin states, and tribal groups should establish a basin-wide forum to consider future water withdrawal application permits. If the State of Washington issues additional permits for water withdrawals from the Columbia River, those permits should contain provisions that allow withdrawals to be curtailed during critical high-demand periods.
  

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Contents

Executive Summary
1
Introduction
15
STUDY BACKGROUND PROCESS AND ORGANIZATION
23
Development and Changes in the Columbia River Basin
27
SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE COLUMBIA BASIN
28
FEDERAL COLUMBIA RIVER HYDROPOWER SYSTEM
36
SUMMARY
39
Hydrology and Water Management
42
INTERSTATE COMPACTS
111
INTERSTATE APPORTIONMENT
114
NATIVE AMERICAN WATER AND FISHERIES RIGHTS
116
FEDERAL RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS
129
STATE LAWS AND INSTITUTIONS
133
SUMMARY
144
Better Management of Existing Water Supplies
146
WATER MARKETS AND WATER BANKS
158

COLUMBIA RIVER FLOWS
46
WATER WITHDRAWALS
52
RETURN FLOWS AND WATER QUALITY
60
WATER TEMPERATURE
63
CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND CHANGE
65
SUMMARY
69
Environmental Influences on Salmon
71
COLUMBIA RIVER SALMON
72
STATUS OF SALMON AND STEELHEAD STOCKS
76
RESEARCH MODELING AND ALTERNATIVE HYPOTHESES
83
WATER TEMPERATURE AND FLOW MANAGEMENT
96
SUMMARY
104
Water Laws and Institutions
107
INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS
108
SUMMARY
172
Water Resources Management Risks and Uncertainties
175
COLUMBIA RIVER MANAGEMENT DECISIONS
182
THE MANAGEMENT SCENARIOS
188
SUMMARY
194
Epilogue
199
References
203
Columbia River Initiative Draft Management Scenarios July 1 2003
223
Resources Group
229
Calculations on Annual Discharges of Water from the Columbia Basin Project
230
Climate Change and Hydrological Impacts
235
Committee Biographical Information
238
National Research Council Board Membership and Staff
244
Copyright

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