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200738400 - Reducing the Cost of Reservoir Removal

Sponsor: bluefish.org

Budgets: FY07: $10,000 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0

Short description: A competition is proposed to engineering students where entrants will consider the costs associated with removal of Lower Snake River dams. The breaching of these four dams may be deemed necessary for the recovery of Idaho's anadromous fish.

view full proposal

Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0


ISRP final recommendation: Not fundable


This is an inadequately written proposal to conduct a design contest among engineering students to find a more cost-effective means of reservoir removal than those considered to date by the Army Corps of Engineers. The proposal provides some information about the contest but is quite generally written and is not persuasive as to why alternatives are needed, why the Corps will not be analyzing an expanded list of alternatives should breaching become a realistic possibility, or why the contest would be the best way to go. No explanation or itemization of the $10k budget is provided. The background section discusses different perspectives on the problem of Snake River juvenile salmon mortality and the question of improving survival. It contains excerpts from the Corps report "Lower Snake River Juvenile Salmon Migration Feasibility" to demonstrate that although dam breaching is identified by the Corps as a less preferable alternative to major system improvements, it may become a more realistic alternative if adaptive migration efforts are not successful. Some description of alternatives being considered by the Corps is presented. The intent of the proposal is to reduce economic effects on the ratepayers of Lower Snake River dam and reservoir removal. A summary list of major costs associated with these removals is included with a more detailed description of one (turbine modification) as an example of how costs might vary with different designs. The single objective of this proposal is to expand the list of alternatives to be considered in a re-evaluation study, which would follow a failed "check-in.” It seeks to lower the economic costs of dam removal. The methods section describes some alternatives that the Corps did not consider which might be lower cost. It describes some explanatory information from the Corps as to why certain configurations would not be considered, then notes that this information should be kept from the public until after the competition to ensure fairness. The proposal does not indicate whether this information is already available in published form. The proposal states that entries will be judged on "economic viability" and "affordability," without explanation of how these are defined. A list of work elements provides a general description of how the contest will be conducted.

State/province recommendation: MS: Do Not Fund

Review group: MSRT

Recommended budgets: FY07: (n/a) | FY08: (n/a) | FY09: (n/a)

Comment: This is a FY 2007-2009 funding cycle. Currently there is no pending legislation for authorization of dam removal. Some of these questions were addressed in the Lower Snake River Feasibility Study. If authorization was granted for dam removal, the most likely funding source for this type of activity would be through Congressional appropriations to the USACE. Review of this type of work would more appropriately be performed by the IEAB.