The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has postponed the issue date of the report on the Snake river dams to 17 December. One of the proposals that is being studied by the USACE is breaching of the four Snake river hydro dams — Lower Monumental, Lower Granite, Little Goose and Ice Harbor — to facilitate the passage of endangered salmon. The original release date of the report was set for October this year. However, the Corps has asked for more time to include additional data.

The report’s delay comes in the midst of an acrimonious battle about the future of the hydro dams on the Snake river. The four dams generate a total of about 1230MW. Each dam is 33m high and provides facilities for barge navigation. USACE has been directed by the federal government to study three options for salmon restoration, including dam removal, barging of fish around the dams, and surface bypass collectors to assist fish migration.

Greg Graham, USACE project manager for the study, says that his team has gathered a tremendous amount of data over the past five years, and that all the information needs to be considered in developing a recommendation on improving salmon survival through the four dams. According to Graham, the Corps still needs to address the comments of other federal agencies, resolve issues brought up by the Northwest Power Planning Council’s Independent Economic Analysis Board, and include additional biological analyses from National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

The NMFS says it will decide how the federal Columbia river hydro dam system could protect fish runs, after reviewing the USACE report. The NMFS biological opinion needs information from the Corps’ report, which describes various options to facilitate fish passage through the four dams. The public will have at least 90 days to comment on the USACE draft before its final release some time in 2000.