Congress asked the Council, with the assistance of the Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB), to review the Corps of Engineers' Columbia River Fish Mitigation Program (CRFM Program, or Program). This report describes the CRFM Program and the Council's review of that Program, summarizes the technical findings and recommendations of the ISAB, and provides the Council's recommendations to the Corps of Engineers and to Congress for improvements in the CRFM Program.
The CRFM Program mitigates for the adverse effects of the eight federal dams in the lower Snake and Columbia rivers on anadromous fish. The Program focuses on the study and implementation of fish passage improvements to the dams, principally to safely pass juvenile salmon, but also to improve adult passage. Cumulative Program expenditures from inception in 1988 through Fiscal Year 1998 total approximately $465 million, another $83-85 million is scheduled to be spent in FY 1999, and the Administration's budget request for FY 2000 is for $100 million. The current total cost estimate for the Program is about $1.4 billion, which includes an allowance of $500 million for future system configuration changes and fish passage improvement measures.
The ISAB reviewed the CRFM Program in three phases. The ISAB's first report addressed questions from the Council about the proposed installation of extended-length turbine intake screens at John Day Dam and the relocation of the juvenile fish bypass conduit at Bonneville Dam. In the second phase, the ISAB submitted two reports to the Council regarding development of surface bypass for juvenile salmonids and abatement of supersaturated gas caused by spill operations at hydroelectric projects. The third and last phase also involved a pair of reports. In the first, the ISAB reviewed adult fish passage measures in the Corps' capital construction program. In the second, the ISAB provided an overview of the Corps' CRFM Program. The Council sought public comment on each of the ISAB reports. All five ISAB reports are described in this report and included as attachments.
The Council based its recommendations on the ISAB's technical findings and on the public comment on those findings. The Council's recommendations are highlighted throughout the report. The following is a summary of the major recommendations:
Overview of Common Issues in Mainstem Fish Passage
The Council recommends that the Corps, NMFS and the other regional entities who participate in decisions on mainstem passage modifications within the System Configuration Team (SCT) forum revise their decisionmaking processes and criteria to the extent necessary to be consistent with the principles, guidelines and ecosystem perspective outlined by the ISAB. Two biological principles in particular should become the dominant focus of passage decisions:
- protect biodiversity — passage solutions must be designed to benefit the range of species, stocks and life-history types in the river, which may require multiple passage solutions at a project, and
- favor passage solutions that best fit natural behavior patterns and river processes — the best passage solutions are those that take into account and work with the behavior and ecology of the species and life-history types using the river system, that "mimic the natural situations and processes that emigrating salmonids encountered in their evolutionary history."
Most important, passage standards, targets, designs and evaluations all should focus on protecting the wide array of native fish species and life history types in the river, not just the weighted average or most abundant species, and must ultimately be related to increases in adults back to the spawning grounds, not just the survival of juveniles (or adults) through the federal Columbia River hydropower system.
On both accounts — protecting biodiversity and favoring natural behavior patterns and river processes — spill together with gas abatement measures remains the best passage method for juvenile salmonids, in that it more closely mimics the natural situations and processes they encountered in their evolutionary history. It should be the baseline against which to measure other passage methods. On the same grounds, surface bypass systems remain the most promising concept for further development, but an unproven concept.
Specific Issues in Mainstem Fish Passage
Development and Testing of Surface Bypass Systems
The Council concurs with the ISAB recommendations and supports continued development and testing of surface bypass prototypes at mainstem lower Columbia River federal hydroelectric projects. Surface bypass prototype development, i.e., one which involves fast-track design, construction and testing, should be a high priority for the Corps. The Council recognizes the developmental phase of surface flow bypass systems could take up to 10 years or more to ensure proper and full evaluation of the new technology to compare against other bypass alternatives.
The Council's recommendation for continued research and development of surface bypass technology only at lower Columbia River dams applies at least until the region makes a long-term system configuration decision regarding the four lower Snake River projects. One caveat: Because the existing prototype surface bypass collector at Lower Granite Dam will remain functional for only another year or two, additional prototype testing may be conducted in FY 1999 and 2000 on this system pending continued regional support, technical soundness of the study plans, availability of adequate funds and research applicability to other federal mainstem hydropower projects.
Water Quality Issues
Dissolved Gas Abatement Program
The Council concurs with the ISAB's recommendation that the Corps should continue implementation of its Gas Abatement Program as a high priority, and proceed with gas abatement measures moving towards meeting state and federal water quality standards. Short of "natural river" modifications to the hydro projects, spill remains the passage strategy of choice that is also the most "normative" in terms of the normal movement of salmon through the river system. For this reason, planned spill for fish passage continues to provide the greatest increment of survival of the in-river passage strategies. For this level of survival to be significant, however, depends in part on taking what reasonable and practical actions we can to reduce the dissolved gas impacts of spill.
The Council strongly recommends the Corps' Gas Abatement Program for federal mainstem hydro projects should continue to be coordinated and integrated with the ongoing interagency Transboundary Gas Group effort to abate total dissolved gas (TDG) on a systemwide basis. The long-term goal of the Corps, and other hydro project operators in the basin, should be to try to reduce TDG levels to achieve the 110% state and federal water quality gas standard. The region will be better able to accomplish this goal in the most cost-effective manner if it takes a systemwide approach to gas abatement instead of a dam-by-dam approach. For this reason, plus the fact the Transboundary Gas Group is a joint, cooperative work group with participation from both U.S. and Canadian agencies, its efforts to develop and implement a systemwide gas abatement plan of action should receive high-level policy and management support from the U.S. federal operating agencies, including the Corps.
The Council also agrees with the ISAB conclusion that additional biological studies are not immediately necessary for continuing the Corps' Gas Abatement Program. Instead, the Corps should proceed with operational and structural gas abatement measures to achieve the lowest gas level attainable at a reasonable cost. However, the Council does recommend that possible physical injury and mortality induced by alternative gas abatement structures should be evaluated prior to installation.
Finally, the Council recommends that gas abatement alternatives be considered in two time frames. First, within the near-term, or in the next few years, the Corps, working with the SCT, the Transboundary Gas Group and the Water Quality Team, should explore all system operational alternatives available to reduce TDG, as well as consider installation of proven technologies such as flow deflectors on spillways that do not currently have them installed. At a slower pace, beyond 10 years, the Corps and others should consider all feasible options for gas abatement, including major tailrace and stilling basin modifications. The state, federal and tribal fishery agencies, through the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority (CBFWA), recently completed a comprehensive gas abatement research, monitoring and evaluation plan. The CBFWA plan is based on findings from the ISAB report and recommends actions in the near-term, medium-term and long-term that appear to be compatible with the approach suggested by the ISAB and recommended by the Council. The Corps, the SCT and the Transboundary Gas Group should review the CBFWA gas research plan by July of 1999, and either incorporate elements of that plan into the Program or explain why not.
In addition, the Council concurs with the ISAB recommendation calling for additional research and monitoring on the effect of elevated water temperature on the stress and survival of both juvenile and adult salmon passing through the mainstem hydrosystem. The Council recommends research be conducted to record the water temperatures experienced by adults during their upstream migration, as well as an annual monitoring program to measure the ambient temperatures throughout the mainstem hydropower system. This would include monitoring of temperatures in fishways when adult salmon and steelhead are present, monitoring the temperature regimes in the reservoirs during migration periods, and monitoring the degree-days experienced by adult migrants in the hydropower system. The Council also recommends a Corps priority should be to identify and implement all feasible structural and operational measures to reduce water temperatures in fish passage facilities, as well as in the eight mainstem Snake and Columbia river reservoirs.
Installation of Extended-Length Screens at John Day Dam
The Council concurs with the ISAB's concerns about the effectiveness of extended-length screens in general and the John Day screens in particular. In general, the ISAB questioned the ability to measure the effectiveness and expected survival benefits of extended-length screens, expressed concerns that screens selectively favor some species over others, and cautioned that these screens may increase fish injury and debris loads in the bypass systems. Installation of extended-length screens should not occur without further study and prototype testing to resolve the concerns raised by the ISAB. Rather than simply cease inquiry into extended-length screens, however, the Council instead continues to support the proposal agreed to by the SCT in 1998, after the ISAB's report, that the Corps construct, install and prototype test a modified extended-length screen design at John Day in FY 1999, at a cost of $2.6 million. Concurrent with these prototype screen tests, the Council recommends the Corps expedite evaluations of surface flow and surface spill bypass alternatives at the project. Installation of extended-length screens at the John Day Dam powerhouse should be deferred until sufficient testing of prototype extended screens can be conducted at the project to address the uncertainties identified by the ISAB in its report. Such testing would also allow for an informed comparison of the effectiveness of different juvenile fish passage alternatives against a baseline of spill passage.
Adult Fish Passage
The Council concurs with the ISAB and recommends that correction or prevention of adult passage problems should receive more attention. The ISAB noted there is a widely held assumption in the region that problems of adult passage have mostly been solved. While the Council supports the planned site-specific adult passage measures in the Corps' CRFM Program, these measures may not be sufficient to ensure that adult spawning migrations are unimpeded and completed successfully with minimal passage mortality. Accordingly, additional research is needed to address the effects of passage delay or extra energy expenditure during upstream migration past the eight federal hydropower projects on the ultimate ability of adults to spawn successfully. Specific measures to improve adult fish passage through the hydropower system should try to bring the cumulative conditions for passage closer to what the fish likely experienced in pre-dam conditions, i.e., examine what the normative condition might be. The Corps should initiate an annual operating project to better refine the accuracy and precision of counting adult salmon passing the dams. Specific suggestions on ways to improve the accuracy of adult counts are included later in the report.
Bonneville Dam Juvenile Fish Bypass Improvements
The Council concurs with the ISAB recommendation that the Bonneville Dam bypass outfall relocation proceed to completion. The Council also agrees with the ISAB that support for completion of the outfall relocation should not be taken as an endorsement of the other proposed changes to the Bonneville bypass system. Accordingly, the Council recommends the Corps, through the regional SCT process, re-evaluate the fish passage strategies at Bonneville Dam based on the principles discussed above.
Independent Engineering Review of Corps' CRFM Program
- How to obtain regional agreement on project scope and schedule early in the process.
To obtain greater agency participation and buy-in in the early phases of CRFM project development, and if regional agencies lack the necessary technical expertise, the Council suggests funding be considered and provided for regional fishery agency and tribal representatives in the initial project scoping process in the Corps' Fish Facility Design Review Work Group (FFDRWG). This funding would be similar to other regional coordination funding currently provided by BPA to the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority and others. Such regional coordination costs may be offset by potential savings in design costs and schedule changes due to additional agency and tribal participation in the initial phases of project development.
- How to provide truly independent engineering review of Corps CRFM projects.
Both the value engineering (VE) and technical review teams should be comprised of a small group of independent, objective and qualified engineers to evaluate the work done by design engineers on a specific fish passage project. Numerous commentors recommended the key to successful VE and technical reviews is to have a reviewing team that is not influenced by the policies or organizational constraints of either the design team nor the organization. Not only does the reviewing team need to feel free to test all of the engineering assumptions being used by the design team, but it also should be outside the institutional influence and policies of the design team's organization.
The Corps maintains that whenever in-house staff is used during a VE or technical review, independence of the review is assured by using team members that have not been involved in any way in the project development or design phases. However, based on information provided by two of the Corps Districts concerning their recent VE studies, the vast majority of recent VE team members have been Corps of Engineers personnel.
The Council recommends, to ensure independence in VE and technical review processes, that the Corps make concerted efforts toward increased use of review teams from private engineering firms to conduct VE and technical reviews of Corps fish passage projects. For example, when engineers from the Corps have designed a fish passage project, the Corps should make efforts to contract with private engineering firms for up to half of its scheduled VE and technical reviews, particularly on high profile or controversial projects. Greater use of private engineering review teams would help insulate the Corps from criticism by outside parties when problems arise with fish passage project designs, costs or schedules. On the other hand, if a private sector engineering firm is responsible for the design of a Corps fish passage project, independent review teams from either the Corps or the private sector could conduct the scheduled VE and technical reviews. This proposal has the advantage of not requiring the Corps to develop a revised contracting process, while still assuring independence of the VE and technical review teams. The Corps, working with the Council, should explore the best means to implement these recommendations.
In the Conference Report on the FY 1998 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act (H. Rept. 105-271), Congress asked the Council to review the Corps' CRFM Program:
The conference agreement includes $95,000,000 for the Columbia River Juvenile Fish Mitigation program in Washington, Oregon and Idaho instead of $85,000,000 as proposed by the House and $117,000,000 as proposed by the Senate. The Conferees note that the budget request for this program appeared to reflect the pursuit of multiple restoration strategies. Some of these may not be adopted, rendering expensive measures obsolete. The conferees request the Northwest Power Planning Council, with assistance from the Independent Scientific Advisory Board (to the extent that the Board feels it can participate without compromising its primary function) established jointly with the National Marine Fisheries Service, to conduct a review of the major fish mitigation capital construction activities proposed for implementation at the Federal dams in the Columbia River Basin, including those called for in the 1995 Biological Opinion of the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the Snake River salmon. The review shall be completed by June 30, 1998. Upon completion of the review, the Corps of Engineers shall seek regional recommendations, as provided by the Bonneville Power Administration Fish and Wildlife Budget Memorandum of Agreement dated September 16, 1996, on implementing the recommendations contained in the review. In addition, the findings of the review shall be supplied to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
On April 30, 1998, the Council and the ISAB advised Congress that this review would be conducted in three phases. That was due to the complexity and magnitude of this review and the need to conduct a thorough review of available research and other information to provide recommendations that ensure a scientific basis for future decisions. The final phase of the ISAB's review, which accompanies this report, was completed on February 16, 1999, with a presentation to the Council on February 23, 1999. At the conclusion of the ISAB's scientific review, the Council staff prepared an issue paper with draft recommendations concerning the Corps' CRFM Program. The Council released its issue paper for a 28-day public review and comment period. This final report incorporates the conclusions and findings of the ISAB, as well as the comments received during the public review period.
Purpose of the Review
Congress asked the Council to conduct this review primarily because of concerns that the CRFM Program appears "to reflect the pursuit of multiple restoration strategies, some of [which] may not be adopted, rendering expensive measures obsolete." Hence the main purpose of the capital construction review is to investigate the need for multiple passage strategies and whether some strategies can be modified, deferred or even eliminated, especially for technical or scientific reasons.
Background on CRFM Program
The purpose of the CRFM Program is to mitigate adverse effects of the eight Corps of Engineers' (Corps) hydroelectric dams on the Lower Snake and Columbia rivers on anadromous fish. The mitigation consists of fish passage improvements to the eight federal dams, principally to safely pass juvenile salmonids, but also to improve adult passage. The scope of the CRFM Program is largely shaped by measures contained in the March 1995 Biological Opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on the impacts of the federal hydropower system operations on Snake River chinook and sockeye salmon, as well as newer measures in the NMFS 1998 Supplemental Biological Opinion for steelhead. The Program also considers and implements capital construction measures for mainstem fish passage contained in the Northwest Power Planning Council's (Council) 1994 Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program, as well as the tribal 1995 salmon restoration plan, Wy-Kan-Ush-Mi Wa-Kish-Wit — Spirit of the Salmon.
The Corps and other federal agencies coordinate the prioritization and implementation of the various projects or measures in the CRFM Program with other regional entities through what is known as the System Configuration Team (SCT). The SCT was established to fulfill a requirement of the NMFS 1995 Biological Opinion (reasonable and prudent action #26), and to serve as a technical coordinating committee in NMFS Columbia Basin Anadromous Fish Program Implementation process of February 1996.
Each year the SCT is responsible for establishing project priorities and developing recommendations to the Corps for implementation of physical improvements to juvenile and adult fish passage facilities on the mainstem Snake or Columbia Rivers. The annual project priorities and recommendations are based on actions or measures identified in the relevant Biological Opinions and salmon recovery plans. Absent consensus in the NMFS Regional Forum, the Corps makes the final decision whether or not to implement a CRFM project. Initial scoping and scheduling of a CRFM project is accomplished within the Corps' Fish Facility Design Review Work Groups. Membership on the SCT is open to the Corps of Engineers, Northwest Power Planning Council, NMFS, BPA, Bureau of Reclamation, USFWS, and state and tribal fishery agencies. The SCT is co-chaired by representatives from NMFS and the Council.
A September 16, 1996, Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) among the Departments of Army, Commerce, Energy and Interior concerning the Bonneville Power Administration's (BPA) financial commitment for Columbia River Basin fish and wildlife expenditures created additional incentives for regional coordination. Funds to implement CRFM Program measures are requested by the Corps in the federal budget process and are appropriated annually by Congress. BPA reimburses the U.S. Treasury for the costs attributable to federal hydropower production, an average of 80 percent of the capitalized costs for each project, when construction is completed and the project is operational. Under the budget MOA, the Corps of Engineers committed that when submitting budget requests for capital appropriations that will be reimbursed by Bonneville, the regional office of the Corps will "act in a manner consistent" with "regional priorities and recommendations" for the allocation of capital funds. If the Corps' eventual budget request differs from regional priorities, the Corps is to explain to Congress and to the region "the reason for the difference and the impact of the difference on the ability to carry out other activities."
There are over 50 separate projects or measures in the Corps' CRFM Program either in the implementation (capital construction) or study/investigation phase. While much of the CRFM Program budget is devoted to actual capital modifications at the dams, projects or measures in the study/investigation phase are also included in the Program. Such projects include studies of new fish passage technologies related to alternative system configuration proposals, including surface bypass, dissolved gas abatement, turbine passage survival, adult fish passage, and drawdown or dam breaching proposals for the four lower Snake River and John Day dams. In recognition of the Conference Committee report language accompanying FY 1999 Congressional appropriations, work on phase 1 of the John Day drawdown study is beginning this year based on a project study plan developed regionally in January 1998.
CRFM Program Costs
Since inception of the CRFM Program in 1988, the current total Program cost estimate is about $1.4 billion, which includes an allowance of $500 million for future system configuration changes and fish passage improvement measures. Cumulative Program expenditures through FY 1998 total approximately $465 million, another $83-85 million is scheduled to be spent in FY 1999, and the Administration's budget request for FY 2000 is for $100 million. About 46 percent of the Program effort in FY 1999 will be on Mitigation Analysis studies, which includes continuation of: a) surface bypass prototype construction, modeling and evaluations at Bonneville and John Day dams; b) completion of lower Snake River drawdown feasibility studies; c) gas abatement and spill studies; d) turbine passage survival studies; and e) additional adult fish passage studies. The majority (54 percent) of the Program effort in FY 1999 will be implementation of fish passage improvements, including continuing construction of Bonneville Dam juvenile fish bypass improvements, completing relocation of the bypass outfall; construction and prototype testing of new extended-length fish screens at John Day Dam; implementation of various adult fish passage improvements; and engineering design work on other fish passage improvements.
Goal and Objectives of CRFM Program
The current general goal for mainstem fish passage, as stated in the NMFS 1995 Biological Opinion, is for the Corps to implement all reasonable measures for the operation and configuration of the Federal Columbia River Power System that will reduce mortalities of listed fish, for both juveniles and adults. The biological objectives of mainstem fish passage actions are to minimize delays at dams and minimize the passage of fish through turbines by providing high survival alternative passage routes supporting salmon smolt-to-adult survival ratios that foster long-term population growth.
The interim performance objective for CRFM Program juvenile passage improvements is to achieve at least an 80 percent fish passage efficiency (FPE) and a 95 percent survival rate for juvenile fish passing at each dam, while keeping total dissolved gas levels within the limits of state water quality standards under the Clean Water Act. In addition, the performance objective for upstream passage is to ensure a high degree of adult passage success by maintaining adult fish facilities within criteria established in the Corps' Fish Passage Plan, and make facility improvements, where necessary. Specific adult fish passage criteria have not been developed or agreed to within the region.
Note it is the needs of listed Snake River populations, as identified by NMFS in the 1995 Biological Opinion, that drive the current CRFM Program. The states, the Council, the four lower river treaty tribes, and others have plans and programs that in some respects would set different goals and priorities for the modification of the projects. Those perspectives are brought to the attention of the federal agencies, but in the end the agencies have deferred to the direction set by NMFS Biological Opinion.
Scope of Review/Procedures and Coordination
The Council approved a scope of work for the capital construction review based on regional comments received on a draft scoping document (Ruff, 1998). In addition, the Council, through its staff, prepared a technical background paper on the CRFM Program, which was used by both the Council and the ISAB to provide needed background information for their respective reviews (Technical Background Paper-Review of the CRFM Program, 1998). A third document, Council report #97-15, was also used as a reference report during the review process.
The scope of the review included identification of those specific elements (projects/measures) that needed focused review plus the policy and technical questions/issues that needed to be addressed. Questions or issues of a policy nature have been or are to be addressed by the Council, while technical/scientific questions have been reviewed by the ISAB.
CRFM Program projects can be placed into major categories such as surface bypass, juvenile fish bypass improvements, spill bypass and dissolved gas abatement, smolt transportation, reservoir drawdown/dam breaching and adult fish passage. Because of the large number of individual projects and the complexity of many, the review focused on an evaluation of the major fish passage strategies, as well as several controversial projects, in order for it to be completed by February 1999. The review focused primarily on passage improvements proposed for implementation rather than on those already underway or those in the research phase.
Specifically included in the ISAB's technical review were three capital improvement projects that were controversial in 1997 during the SCT's deliberations of the Corps' FY 1998 CRFM Program budget. Those projects include: 1) the Bonneville Dam second powerhouse juvenile fish bypass improvements, particularly the bypass outfall relocation; 2) installation of extended-length screens at John Day Dam; and 3) further development and testing of the surface spill bypass prototype system at Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River.
The Corps' research projects, implemented under its Anadromous Fish Evaluation Program, will be reviewed separately in future years by the Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP), and integrated into the panel's annual review of BPA direct-funded research. Due to the short time frame for this review and heavy ISAB workload in 1998, and since Corps research-related issues will be addressed in the ISRP review process, those projects are not included in this review.
Various technical briefings on particular CRFM projects undergoing review were scheduled during the ISAB's deliberations. These briefings, which were provided by members of the region's fishery agencies, tribes and the Corps, presented relevant technical information on specific projects for the panel's consideration. In addition, following each of the ISAB's reports to the Council on its findings and technical recommendations of various aspects of the Program, the Council provided opportunity for public comment on the ISAB reports and the policy issues arising from these reports. This final report by the Council incorporates the technical/scientific findings and recommendations from the ISAB, as well as the public comments received on the policy issues raised in this review.
The Council utilized the regional SCT to provide technical input throughout the 15-month capital construction review process. Additional coordination with the region's fish and wildlife agencies and Indian tribes was provided with staff assistance from the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority (CBFWA). In addition, the Council compiled a list of entities not represented on SCT that were interested in participating in the review of mainstem fish passage capital construction projects. The Council used that list for consultation purposes during the review process.
Policy Context for the Review
Review of the CRFM Program has not focused on purely scientific questions. Instead, the review was conducted within a policy context that relates to an eventual set of system configuration decisions affecting the use or relevance of fish passage facilities at existing mainstem dams. Accordingly, it was necessary to establish some policy sideboards for the review effort. For example, the question of the value of installing extended-length screens at particular mainstem dams is only important if the projects are to remain operating in their existing condition.
The Council is charged to balance the region's need for an "adequate, economical, efficient, and reliable" power supply, with its obligation to "protect, mitigate and enhance" the fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin. To aid the ISAB review effort, the Council established a policy context for the review of the CRFM Program related to possible major future system configuration alternatives of mainstem hydroelectric dams presently under consideration in the region. Accordingly, the following four future alternative scenarios were identified by the Council to provide policy sideboards for the technical review:
- All existing mainstem dams, including dam modifications, remain in place and operational for the foreseeable future.
- All dams remain in place except that the four lower Snake River projects are breached to provide a natural river condition in the Snake River within the next 5-10 years.
- All dams remain in place except that a lower Columbia River project, such as John Day Dam, is breached or lowered within the next 10 years.
- Dams remain in place except that the four lower Snake River projects are breached to provide a natural river condition in the Snake River and John Day Dam is breached or lowered in the Columbia River within the next 5-10 years.
The technical elements of the review were analyzed by the ISAB based on these four potential future scenarios. The final determination as to which system configuration alternative to implement will continue to be a regional and national policy decision which is expected to be made within the next year or so.
ISAB Reports in Three Phases
Partly at the request of the Council, the ISAB broke up its review into three phases, to allow for review and recommendations early in the review process on certain high priority questions. The ISAB's first report, ISAB 98-4 (June 9, 1998), addressed questions from the Council about the proposed installation of extended-length turbine intake screens at John Day Dam and the proposed relocation of the juvenile fish bypass conduit at Bonneville Dam. In the second phase, the ISAB submitted two reports to the Council on September 29, 1998, responding to questions from the Council regarding development of surface bypass for juvenile salmonids (ISAB 98-7) and abatement of supersaturated gas caused by spill operations at hydroelectric projects (ISAB 98-8). The third and last phase also involved a pair of reports — ISAB 99-2 (January 26, 1999), which reviewed adult fish passage measures in the Corps' capital construction program, and ISAB 99-4 (February 16, 1999), which provided an overview of the Corps' CRFM Program and the ISAB's review of that Program.
At the conclusion of each of the ISAB reports, the Council solicited public comment as to the recommendations the Council should include in its final report on the CRFM Program. Comments are summarized at relevant places in the report. The five ISAB scientific reports to the Council are included as Attachments 1-5.
As noted above, the ISAB's scientific and technical review focused largely on five specific CRFM projects or areas of study, plus an overview report. Longer term system configuration alternatives, including the lower Snake River Drawdown Feasibility Study, the John Day Reservoir Drawdown Study and the Turbine Passage Survival Program, are also a part of the CRFM Program but were not reviewed by the ISAB. These long-term system configuration options are integral components of CRFM Program and have been prioritized for funding by the regional SCT for the past four years or so. Long-term fish passage options that were reviewed by the ISAB include the Gas Abatement Program and surface bypass/surface spill development.
Following receipt of the ISAB overview report (ISAB 99-4), the Council staff prepared an issue paper summarizing the technical and scientific findings of the ISAB and containing staff recommendations on how the Council might respond. Review of the Corps of Engineers' Columbia River Fish Mitigation Program, Issue Paper 99-3. The Council received comments on the issue paper from the Corps of Engineers, NMFS and the CRITFC. Their comments are included as Attachments 6-8 and also summarized below, where appropriate.