News Releases

Spring fish operations begin on the lower Snake and Columbia rivers

Published April 3, 2018
Ice Harbor Lock and Dam, near Burbank, Washington

Ice Harbor Lock and Dam, near Burbank, Washington

Lower Monumental Lock and Dam, near Kahlotus, Washington

Lower Monumental Lock and Dam, near Kahlotus, Washington

PORTLAND, OR — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began implementing its 2018 Spring Fish Operations Plan at the four lower Snake River dams today.

The 2018 plan includes operations for the spring fish passage season at the lower Snake and lower Columbia River projects, utilizing tools such as spill, river flow and water level adjustments, bypass operations, and transportation of juvenile fish from Lower Granite, Little Goose, and Lower Monumental dams.

As specified in NOAA Fisheries’ 2014 Supplemental Biological Opinion and recent court orders, fish passage spill begins at the lower Snake River dams on April 3 and at the lower Columbia River dams on April 10.

Spring spill in 2018 will look a little different as the Corps will spill additional water through the spillways up to total dissolved gas limits established by Oregon and Washington state water quality agencies. 

"The Corps has been tasked with increasing spill up to the limits of state water quality standards," said Julie Ammann, chief of the Reservoir Control Center for the Corps’ Northwestern Division.  She added, “We will use our expertise and best professional judgment to implement this operation and maximize spill up to the state limits.  There are many factors that influence total dissolved gas, so managing spill at all our lower Snake and lower Columbia River dams will be challenging.”

Ammann went on to say “The Corps has been working collaboratively with the region for the past year to prepare for this new spill operation.  Since this voluntary spill operation has not been implemented before, the Corps will closely monitor the system and respond as necessary if we see any unintended consequences."

The most recent water supply forecast for 2018 issued by the Northwest River Forecast Center for the Columbia River Basin (Apr–Aug) is 116 percent of normal as measured at The Dalles Dam and 110 percent of normal for the Snake River Basin, (Apr–Jul), as measured at Lower Granite Dam.

Spring snow melt will result in high water levels and high velocities below the dams.  River users, especially anglers, are reminded to be mindful of conditions and to always wear a personal flotation device when on or near the river.

In addition to spill, the federal agencies will continue many other actions in the current biological opinion that benefit salmon and steelhead.  For more information on federal salmon and steelhead recovery efforts in the region, visit

Matt Rabe

Release no. 18-020