ELECTRIC UTILITIES ARE formulating a proposal to protect Columbia river salmon without spilling too much water at the dams.
The plan comes after courts rejected a US government plan to protect the endangered species in May 2003. Last spring and summer, fishery authorities required dam operators to open spillways to help young fish to bypass power generating turbines.
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) says it would lose about US$80M in revenue next July and August, through spillage requirements to help fish. BPA officials are seeking to reduce the amount of water spilled to help fish during those two months. Utilities say the number of salmon benefiting from the spill is very small and question the energy loss due to the spill.
One estimate put the number of threatened or endangered salmon benefiting from the spill at 15 returning adults. The number is low because many migrating salmon are captured upstream of dams and transported by barge or truck past the hydro system.