198802200 - Umatilla Fish Passage Operations

Sponsor: Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

Budgets: FY07: $380,238 | FY08: $399,249 | FY09: $419,211

Short description: Increase survival of migrating juvenile and adult salmon and steelhead in the Umatilla Basin by operating passage facilities, flow enhancement measures, trapping facilities, and transport equipment to provide adequate passage conditions.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $362,164 | FY08: $362,164 | FY09: $362,164

Comment: The project sponsors are to work with the Council and others to structure an ISRP/Council review of the coordinated subbasin activities in the Umatilla at some point in the next two years.

ISRP final recommendation: Not fundable (Qualified)

Comment:

The response helped to clarify operational procedures and decisions. The figures presented in the response suggested that a substantial reduction in the numbers of fish hauled has resulted in recent years. Still, the relationship with flow is not clear. There remain sections of the river, between Birch Creek and Threemile dam, which continue to dewater - if our interpretation is correct. Are we to assume that no fish mortality occurs in the trap and haul operation? One assumes that volitional migration versus truck and haul is to the fish’s benefit, and that this is occurring at an increased frequency, thus towards fish benefits, but we find no attempt to document the extent to which the assumption holds or does not. There is a very large expenditure on the flow projects in this basin, thus it seems worthy of more in-depth and on-site review and evaluation. In addition, the large expenditure calls for evaluation of biological benefits, as the ISRP has repeatedly requested. It is difficult to suggest a design for the evaluation of biological benefits without a better understanding of the flow and fish passage operations. It is apparent the proponents have made a serious effort to address the comments and questions raised by the ISRP, and we appreciate it. However, the more we learn, the more we question. An overriding question has to do with evaluation of effectiveness (in benefiting fish) of one of the primary measures being undertaken, ostensibly to benefit fish, namely the pumping of water from the Columbia River into the Umatilla Basin to be shared equally, “bucket for bucket” to benefit irrigators and fish. We find no proposal in the Umatilla collection that addresses the evaluation of benefits to fish of this measure. Yet, the results of all the other measures being undertaken in the Umatilla Basin certainly are affected by the amount and timing of water made available by the pumping strategy. Accordingly, we recommend that these proposals be reviewed in the near future as a package, the “Umatilla Initiative.” The ISRP’s recommendation of “Not Fundable (Qualified)” for the set of projects that constitute the Umatilla Initiative is explained under project 198343600, Umatilla Passage O&M.

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State/province recommendation: Fundable

Review group: OSPIT - Plateau

Recommended budgets: FY07: $380,238 | FY08: $380,238 | FY09: $380,238

Comment: OSPIT supports Flatline budget at FY07 level.