Integrated Operational Rule Curves for Montana Reservoirs and Application for Other Columbia River Storage Projects

Integrated Operational Rule Curves for Montana Reservoirs and Application for Other Columbia River Storage Projects

Brian L. Marotz, Daniel Gustafson, Craig Althen, and Bill Lonon

Integrated Operational Rule Curves for Montana Reservoirs and Application for Other Columbia River Storage ProjectsThis is part of Ecosystem Approaches for Fisheries Management
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Description

Reservoir operation guidelines were developed to balance resident fisheries concerns with anadromous species recovery actions in the lower Columbia River. Fisheries requirements were integrated with power production and flood control to reduce the economic impact of basin-wide fisheries recovery actions. These Integrated Rule Curves (IRCs) were developed simultaneously in the Columbia Basin System Operation Review (SOR 1995), the fish and wildlife program of the Northwest Power Planning Council (NPPC), and recovery actions for endangered fish species (Marotz et.al. 1996). IRCs were adopted into the council’s fish and wildlife program (NPPC 1994). However, the IRC operations were supplanted by the Biological Opinion (BiOp) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS 1995). BiOp operations are designed to enhance the downstream migrational success of populations of juvenile chinook and sockeye salmon from the Snake River listed under the Endangered Species Act. The BiOp calls for summer releases of water from storage projects including Hungry Horse and Libby reservoirs. BiOp operations cause drawdown of these reservoirs during the summer and unnatural flow fluctuations downstream causing impacts to the aquatic ecosystem. The decision to release water from headwater dams to augment summer flows downstream pivots on the potential benefits to anadromous fish relative to the potential impacts to resident fish.

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