The Hanford Reach Fall Chinook Protection Programme aims to maintain measures developed for the benefit of juvenile fish stocks in the Columbia river beyond the existing Vernita Bar Settlement Agreement, drawn up in 1988 and set to expire in October 2005 when Grant County Public Utility District’s (PUD) license for the project ends. The plan includes not only all the elements of the original Vernita agreement but also additional flow fluctuation limits, some of which have been voluntary since 1999.

‘The new agreement provides greater guarantees on timing of water delivery, provides new weekend protection flows and limits flow fluctuations for juvenile fall Chinook rearing in the Hanford Reach,’ said Joe Lukas, senior fisheries scientist for Grant County PUD. ‘The cooperative and experimental work of agencies, tribes and the operators from 1999 to 2003 limited fry losses to less than 3% and formed the basis for the new agreement.’

The new programme resulted from collaboration between Grant PUD, Bonneville Power Administration, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries, Chelan County PUD, Douglas County PUD and the Colville Confederated Tribes and is set to cost some US$4.3M annually.

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