Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) plan to reduce summer spill at four of its hydroelectric facilities has been approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

The decision marks the end of several months of debate concerning BPA’s proposal to introduce cost-cutting spill reductions at its Columbia and Snake river dams, and was helped by US agency NOAA Fisheries’ findings that the plans would comply with requirements to protect affected fish species, spelt out in the Endangered Species Act.

While spill is to be cut from the Bonneville, John Day, The Dalles and Ice Harbor dams during the month of August, a set of measures has been drawn up to offset any potential negative impacts including releasing funds for habitat and hatchery projects, the enhancement of flows in the lower Snake river during the month of July, the strengthening of an existing predator control programme and the improvement of rearing conditions for fall Chinook in the Hanford Reach.

Scientists will also continue to investigate the benefits of a new type of spill passage technology at Bonneville dam and the implications of alternative spills at Ice Harbor dam.

BPA said the financial benefits would be passed onto its customers, with expected savings for rate payers to the tune of US$18M–28M this year.

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