Reclamation weighs how to keep taps open on Lower Snake River

By Jennifer Yachnin | 06/26/2024 01:15 PM EDT

The Biden administration is studying how to provide water to farmers and cities if four hydropower dams are removed in a bid to revive salmon and steelhead populations.

Ice Harbor Lock and Dam.

Ice Harbor Lock and Dam on the Lower Snake River near Burbank, Washington. Jeff T. Green/AFP via Getty Images

A senior Bureau of Reclamation official said the agency will not limit “any potential solutions” as it weighs how to continue to deliver water to farmers and municipalities in the Pacific Northwest in the event four hydropower dams are breached in a bid to restore fish populations in the region.

Roland Springer, a Boise, Idaho-based deputy regional director at Reclamation, made the comments Tuesday during a public webinar on the agency’s new “Lower Snake River Water Supply Replacement Study” on current water supply needs and use.

“At this point, we don’t want to limit any potential solutions,” Springer said. “We recognize there’s lots of limitations on water throughout the basin, but we’re not constraining what sources would be looked at.”


The study is being conducted as a result of the $1 billion settlement agreement the Biden administration struck late last year in a long-running federal lawsuit over hydropower operations on the Snake and Columbia rivers.