US agencies have released a draft environmental impact statement detailing options for restoring populations of the endangered steelhead to Salmon Creek.
The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Okanogan Irrigation District have tabled the following four options to provide enough water for fish migration and to help salmon replace the extinct natural stock:
• Construction of a new pump station on Okanogan river, use of the river water for irrigation in place of Salmon Creek and the removal of a gravel barrier at the mouth of Salmon Creek to aid fish passage,
• Upgrades to the existing Shellrock pump station to increase the use of Okanogan river water for irrigation to rehabilitate the stream channel in the lower 7km of Salmon Creek to aid fish passage,
• Purchase of water rights from irrigators and placing the water in trust through Washington state to remain in Salmon Creek,
• No action alternative.
Bonneville Power Administration is the lead agency in the action and has to decide whether to finance the measures once a final environmental impact statement is published. It is cooperating with the US Bureau of Reclamation, the owner of the Conconully dam on Salmon Creek and the Okanogan Irrigation District diversion dam further downstream.
The stretch of the creek below the diversion dam has been dewatered since 1916. Salmon are only found there during high run-off conditions when spill is required from dams.