Mar 5, 2021 | Blog

Snake River Dam Breaching Proposal

Snake River Dam Breaching Proposal 

The Idaho Water Users Association (IWUA) Board of Directors earlier this week adopted the following statement relating to Congressman Mike Simpson’s “Columbia Basin Fund” concept:

Congressman Simpson’s proposal to resolve the region’s ongoing salmon litigation proposes breaching of the Lower Snake River Dams and attempts to place a value on the impacts resulting from breaching.

Idaho Water Users Association (IWUA) members have adopted a resolution opposing breaching the Lower Snake River Dams. Many of these members depend on low cost hydropower for their operations.  IWUA remains skeptical about the idea of removing renewable, clean, reliable, low-cost hydropower in a time of uncertainty relating to climate change and power adequacy.

Pursuant to the Snake River Water Rights Agreement of 2004, water users above the Hells Canyon complex provide flow augmentation water for anadromous fish. In return, a 30-year biological opinion on the Upper Snake River has allowed water users, the State and Tribes to avoid litigation. It is unclear how the proposal would maintain the expectations and protections of this Agreement.

IWUA recognizes and appreciates the time and effort that Congressman Simpson and his staff have put into understanding this complex issue and striving to find a path forward. IWUA also appreciates the comments and questions from Governor Little and Speaker Bedke and will continue to work with our affected stakeholder partners in Idaho.

First and foremost, IWUA will continue to advocate to protect the interests of its members. IWUA looks forward to engaging in discussions with Congressman Simpson and regional stakeholders and Tribes to find a path forward that addresses the current and future needs of the region’s many stakeholders, including the recovery of salmon and steelhead.

Here is some additional information on the Salmon Concept:
>> A brief summary of the concept can be viewed here.
>> A list of “myths and facts” about the concept can be viewed here.
>> A collection of statements (pro and con) can be viewed here.
>> A sector breakdown of the concept can be viewed here.
>> The slide presentation can be viewed here.
>> Finally, a recent video prepared by BPA on the life cycle of a salmon can be viewed here.

This statement is informed by IWUA Resolution 2020-11, which opposes breaching of the Lower Snake or Columbia River dams.  We’ll continue to share information provided by our Pacific Northwest members on this critically important matter.