Response for project 198709900: Dworshak Dam Impacts Assess/In

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

We are seeking renewal of this project for Fiscal Year 2006 at $210,000. Our FY 2005 funding was $160,000; plus a budget modification of $50,000 bringing our total FY 2005 contract to $210,000. We request this amount to continue on-going monitoring and evaluation research. This is a 34% reduction from our previous contract funding level. The project's objective to "maintain adult kokanee abundance at 30-50 fish/ha” has only been partially achieved. Other tasks are still underway to accomplish this. We anticipate providing the Council with new project proposals for the Federal FY07 under the new subbasin plan. Ending the project in March 2006, only to restart it again in October, would be expensive and time consuming. A similar problem exists with rented office space and equipment. Once lost, restarting a project addressing subbasin needs could be difficult. By not ending the project, personnel will remain on the project and will be available for future work at Dworshak Reservoir as new projects start under the Clearwater Subbasin Plan. The subbasin addresses objectives and strategies specific to Dworhsak Reservoir resident fisheries (see response to relevancy to subbasin plan). Therefore ending the project after 2005, only to restart it in the near future, would not only be difficult for existing personnel, but would not make sense financially.

Accomplishments since the last review

Manage and Administer Projects2001-2004: Performed administrative tasks such as financial reporting, training meetings, and development of SOW packages.
Produce Annual Report2001-2004: Produced Annual Reports
Produce Status Report2001-2004: Produced succinct and informative quarterly reports summarizing project efforts and findings submitted to COTR as hardcopy and electronic documents and also made available to the public on the internet.
Develop RM&E Methods and Designs2001-2004: Performed experimental effectiveness testing of underwater strobe lights at deterring fish entrainment through discharging turbine intakes and reservoir outlets.
Develop RM&E Methods and Designs2002-2004: Performed fixed-site hydroacoustic sampling in front of dam intakes to determine fish detection rates as a measure of potential entrainment through discharging turbine intakes and reservoir outlets.
Collect/Generate/Validate Field and Lab Data2001-2004: Conducted annual hydroacoustic kokanee population estimate surveys, kokanee trawl sampling to determine age and growth, kokanee spawner counts, forebay density surveys, and a limnological survey.
Analyze/Interpret Data2001-2004: Completed statiscal significance tests of strobe light test data.

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

Manage and Administer Projects2005-2006: Perform administrative tasks such as financial reporting, training meetings, and development of SOW package.
Produce PlanWrite an implementation plan for installation of underwater strobe lights on Dworshak Dam as a means to reduce fish entrainment through the turbine intakes.
Produce Design and/or SpecificationsPrepare engineering and technical drawings, specifications, and budgets for the construction and installation of underwater strobe light system.
Produce Annual Report2005-2006: Produce Annual Report for 2004 and 2005 respectively.
Produce Status Report2005-2006: Produce succinct and informative quarterly reports summarizing project efforts and findings and submit to COTR as PDF and also made available to the public on the internet.
Develop RM&E Methods and Designs2005-2006: Collect fixed-site hydroacoustic data immediately upstream of discharging turbines and reservoir outlets to assess fish entrainment potential and estimate entrainment rates with newly installed transducer in intake.
Collect/Generate/Validate Field and Lab Data2005-2006: Conduct annual hydroacoustic kokanee population estimate surveys and kokanee spawner counts.
Analyze/Interpret Data2006: Complete statiscal significance tests of 2005 strobe light test data.

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

This project is consistent with and implements Aquatic Strategies 1, 2, and 3 in the Clearwater Subbasin Plan (Management Plan, pg 26) under objective I (capitalized letter i ) for Dworshak Reservoir resident fisheries. This project is focused on assessing the effectiveness of methods to minimize entrainment losses of fish through Dworshak Dam. It also monitors and evaluates program success through comparisons of trends in population relative abundance pre- and post-implementation of management activities designed to minimize entrainment rates. This research is briefly outlined as project VII-3 in section 4.3.1 of the Clearwater Subbasin Management Plan. It is believed that current research and management efforts aimed at reducing impacts on kokanee will benefit a suite of resident species which are similarly impacted by reservoir operations. Therefore, this project is directly related to and will guide future research addressing objectives E, J, K, and L for bull trout, rainbow trout, mitigation goals, and developing an integrated rule curve for Dworshak Dam operations, respectively. In addition, these technologies, once proven, could be implemented in other storage reservoirs in the Columbia Basin where entrainment losses are prevalent. This project also conforms to the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program (FWP) program measure 10.1B, which gives a high priority to “resident fish substitution measures in areas that previously had salmon and steelhead, but where anadromous fish are now irrevocably blocked by federally operated hydropower development”. The native river habitat has changed into a fluctuating reservoir. This project attempts to improve sport fisheries on the native and introduced fish within this new habitat. It is also a principle of the FWP to “Protect, mitigate and enhance resident fish in hydropower system storage projects to the fullest extent practical from negative impacts associated with water releases”.

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

Resident fish goals, objectives, and strategies were not prioritized in the Clearwater Subbasin plan assessment. However, this project addresses several limiting factors in the Clearwater Subbasin plan assessment. Dworshak Dam is specifically identified as an Assessment Unit Scale – local source limiting factor for resident fish in the subbasin under section 8.3.2 (pg 348) of the subbasin assessment. The reservoir inundated an estimated 200 km of river and stream habitat which is lost resident fish habitat, which to date has not been fully mitigated. The current operation of Dworshak Dam is a limiting factor to fish populations within Dworshak Reservoir. Drawdowns of the reservoir can be a much as 47 m (154 ft.) and reduce the surface area by 52%, thereby reducing habitat for fish populations. Drawdowns also prevent the establishment of productive littoral areas around the shorelines of the reservoir, which affects near-shore spawning and feeding species. Kokanee are the best-adapted species for this fluctuating reservoir since they occupy the pelagic, offshore, areas and spawn in tributary streams. Their densities have exceeded 100 adult kokanee per hectare, and harvest of kokanee by anglers has exceeded 200,000 fish in some years. The population's biggest limiting factor has been entrainment into Dworshak Dam outflows. For example in the spring of 1996, Idaho Department of Fish and Game estimated that 1.3 million kokanee were entrained, potentially reducing the kokanee population in the reservoir by 95%. Fickeisen and Geist (1993) noted that the principle bottleneck to the population appeared to be the entrainment losses of fish through the dam. Reservoir operations also limit smallmouth bass populations. Fluctuating water levels during incubation have resulted in desiccation of nests and limited beds of aquatic vegetation that provide habitat for production of food needed by age 1 to age 4 fish.

Other comments

The Council and BPA have a considerable on-the-ground investment in the current project. We have a small but well trained crew on this project that has expertise in fixed-site and mobile hydroacoustic sampling and analysis, trawling, and operation and maintenance of underwater strobe lights, etc. This specialized training, in a place like Ahsahka, would be very difficult to replace. Ending the project at the end of the current contract Feb 28, 2006 and not renewing the contract until new contracts start in October, will likely cause these people to move to jobs elsewhere.