In 2002, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners had to decide: Breach the four lower Snake River dams or invest in making dams more fish friendly?
They chose to invest. In 2014, all-time record salmon returns occurred, with 2.5 million adults returning; coho fishing opened for the first time in decades.
New technologies installed at the dams have improved young fish survival to the point that NOAA fisheries now state that survival is approaching that seen in rivers with no dams at all.
Enter Jim Waddell, formerly with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. Waddell says the Corps erred in calculations of costs for the next 100 years. His new numbers replace the balanced opinions of 9,000 parties, multiple federal agencies and other interests involved in 2002.
Waddell objects to one-time, long-term investments at dams. Further, he thinks money spent on habitat restoration and hatchery improvements is wasted and should stop.
These costs are paid by Northwest families and businesses through their electric bills.
Electricity comes from hydropower or somewhere else. Demand will increase over the next 100 years. What will replace the dams? At what dollar cost? Adding how much CO2?
Wanda Keefer, Clarkston, Wash.