Off, 1955-57. If the federal subsidy for barging shifts to trucks and trains, growers’ transportation costs need not increase at all. Its time to remove the dams benefits more life forms and bring balance back to the region. Hearing happening now on WA HB 1157 that would offer cities a partial rebate of the real estate excise tax in exchange for…. Dam advocates say the Snake River dams are far too important for transportation, irrigation and power needs. The dams generate electricity, allow cargo to be moved on river barges and provide irrigation water to farmers. They symbolize who we are as residents of the Pacific Northwest and define our communities and our economy. I have seen costs of $300 to $3000 per rail car when other commodities are in demand like oil, coal or containers shipping via rail. The main stream is regulated by several dams and reservoirs, the most expansive being American Fall Dam and Reservoir. (The value of wild salmon make that expense worthwhile, I argued in the. The cost could exceed a billion dollars. Answer: virtually nonexistent. Removing the earthen embankment is far less expensive. We can replace barge traffic on the reservoirs behind the dams with rail. The cost could exceed a billion dollars. In some cases, paying them for their losses would cost less than continuing to operate the dams as at present. The lower Snake River dams have enabled large quantities of grain to be shipped by barge from Lewiston, Idaho all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River, 465 miles away, making the ninth-largest city in the nation’s 39th most populous state the West Coast’s farthest-inland port. When in late July, the consulting firm ECONorthwest (ECONW) released, on the economic tradeoffs of removing the dams on the lower Snake River, US Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse, both Republicans from Eastern Washington, immediately, the report “a slap in the face of our state’s agricultural economy” adding that “billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements that would be needed for irrigation and transportation hardly come across as a ‘public benefit.’”, Using water permit data from the Department of Ecology, ECONW identified 41 surface water diversions and 84 groundwater wells that could be affected by the drop in water levels if the dams were removed. That would certainly raise costs for wheat farmers but those increased costs are less than the costs of operating the locks at the four dams. From the study: “The Lower Snake River Dams supply a small share of the energy needs for the Pacific Northwest region, and account for less power than BPA currently exports to other regions.”. .) Dams, irrigation diversions, pollution, and channel alteration have affected water quality, and over-watering from sprinkler-irrigated portions of the Eastern Snake River Basalt Plains has raised groundwater levels and created artificial wetlands. Snake River Waterkeeper is working to regain healthy waterways by demanding agency accountability through application of science and law. In spite of the. Let’s take them in turn. One truck company told me to haul 60,000 pounds of grain from Lewiston to Portland would cost between $900 to $1100 a load one way. (https://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/post/judge-redden-talks-salmon-case#stream/0). All Rights Reserved. Breaching the lower Snake River dams and restoring the river would not come cheap. The dams provide renewable hydropower and irrigation and facilitate navigation of barge traffic from the mouth of the river upstream to Lewiston, … Salmon, and the Snake River Dams Europeans were farming wheat along the Lower Snake as early as the late 1800’s. As part of the National Waterkeeper Alliance’s “Pure Farms, Pure Water” campaign, Snake River Waterkeeper engages the courts, legislature, and decision-makers to challenge industrial and agricultural operation to clean up their act, comply with environmental regulations, or face enforcement of the Clean Water Act’s requirements at these harmful sites. During low water, algae blooms occur throughout the calm stretches of the river, depleting its oxygen supply. The Snake River dams in Washington would remain in place under a final study released Friday, July 31, by federal agencies. The plan guides dam management on the Columbia River System, which includes the four controversial Lower Snake River dams — Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little … The ECONW study greatly exaggerated the cost of breaching the Lower Snake River (LSR) dams. You can power us forward on sustainable solutions. The high end is with no back haul. Many return flows do not issue directly back into the Snake River, but rather feed the aquifer beneath. … Water is pumped from the top of the full reservoir to cropland 20-560 feet above the surface of the reservoir. The three states wheat farmers grow some of the, if not the best wheat’s in the world. Downriver grain shipment makes up the majority of barge traffic on the lower Snake River. Hundreds of facilities dump millions of gallons of pollutants into the Snake River and its tributaries every year. Some of us want to have healthy salmon populations along with all the jobs, food sources and benefits more salmon and a healthier marine ecosystem brings. Instead of addressing the violations, Idaho passed legislation to guarantee dairies they would not lose their permits for violating the CWA. Is Cap & Trade 1530 taken into consideration? Too much wheat is as bad as not enough. The new plan says that’s the best option for fish – but too expensive in terms of irrigation, transportation and power generation. In the last 10 years, the revenue per acre of wheat has an average year to year variation of more than 20 percent as crop yields and prices swing in response to weather and market forces. In some cases, paying them for their losses would cost less than continuing to operate the dams as at present. The ECONW study took a bean counter’s approach to weighing the pros and cons of dam removal. We believe everyone has the right to a clean river that is safe to fish and swim in. When in late July, the consulting firm ECONorthwest (ECONW) released its study on the economic tradeoffs of removing the dams on the lower Snake River, US Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse, both Republicans from Eastern Washington, immediately branded the report “a slap in the face of our state’s agricultural economy” adding that “billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements that would be needed for irrigation and transportation hardly come across as a ‘public benefit.’”. The current shipping system is faster and more environmentally friendly than adding thousands of semi-tractors to our roads. Before the National Environmental Policy Act (1969), the massive federal dam-building program seemed like a great thing to do. SPOKANE, Wash. — The U.S. government announced Friday that four huge dams on the Snake River in Washington state will not be removed to help endangered salmon migrate to the ocean. Not surprisingly, and despite notoriously limited water quality sampling, Idaho DEQ’s most recent report shows 36% of Idaho streams require mandatory TMDLs for failing to meet water quality standards. The study also says that some plans to add additional power could increase CO2 emmissions and raise utility bills by a dollar or two for consumers. A $6.2 million increase in transportation for those who barge their grain represents an average cost increase that is less than one percent of the region’s grain revenues. Find this article interesting? Our editors reserve the right to monitor inappropriate comments and personal attacks. The dams generate electricity, allow cargo to be moved on river barges and provide irrigation water to farmers. In this May 15, 2019, file photo, the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River is seen from the air near Colfax, Washington. Creating a more diverse landscape by restoring natural patterns of streams and rivers would draw wildlife back to land, provide clear and clean water, restore downstream fisheries, and begin the process of reviving our bays and estuaries.– Bruce Babbit in “At Water’s Edge” from Cities in the Wilderness (2005). Some of the uses are at odds: navigation to and from Lewiston, Idaho, the West’s most inland port, irrigation for growers along the Snake, the balance of renewable energy, the survival of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, tribal treaty rights, sport and commercial fishing and recreation. To estimate how much more they would pay, ECONW analyzed the average annual barge loadings at the ports along the Snake River and reallocated them to trucks or trains given the relative costs for each mode. We are focused on achieving measurable reductions in toxic pollution in the fish, wildlife, and people of the mighty Snake River by advocating for state and federal laws that responsibly limit toxic pollution and holding illegal polluters accountable for threatening water quality and public health. Support more research like this with a year-end gift! The shift from barge to truck or train would increase costs for some grain growers. A $6.2 million increase in transportation for those who barge their grain represents an average cost increase that is less than one percent of the region’s grain revenues. It allows for more springtime spill over dams to help juvenile salmon migrating out to the Pacific Ocean. Sightline Institute is non-partisan and does not oppose, support, or endorse any political candidate or party. In 1976 the Teton Dam collapsed, causing disastrous flooding of the upper Snake River valley. Working with a broad coalition of non-profit, government, private, and individual partners, we use the NPDES permitting process, Total Maximum Daily Load (“TMDL”) designation, and the antidegradation program to help develop pollution control and cleanup projects that restore impaired waterways and protect pristine waterways. What is they are lost forever? In the case of agriculture, it showed that the increased costs to irrigators and grain growers are surprisingly modest. Wyoming and basin big sagebrush, alkali … Today fertilizer, manure and other chemicals and pollutants wash into the river and greatly increase the nutrient load of phosphorus, nitrogen, and fecal coliform from failing septic tanks, wastewater treatment plants, broken sewer lines, and animal waste. Any cost increase matters to farmers and the increased shipping costs would fall more heavily on some than others, but policymakers should understand that shifts in transportation costs on the order of one percent are just one star in a broad constellation of forces that determine planting choices and profitability. These combined costs are about 12 percent of the estimated costs of removing the dams—not small numbers but certainly within the range of mitigation costs that have been part of other large public projects. Report water quality violations and illegal river pollution here or call (208) 806-1303. I am hopeful that your future stories will consider this important discernment, and perhaps explain why ECONW rejected Twa’s modeling of earthen embankment removal.