Almost every electric utility customer in the Northwest uses at least some amount of hydropower, since it produces roughly half of the region’s electricity.
While several salmon stocks are still endangered, data show that the Columbia and Snake River are producing significantly improved numbers of juvenile salmon.
Scientists theorize the problem is occurring in the ocean. A recent peer reviewed study shows that roughly 85% of the total historical vegetated estuary area for the West Coast have been lost. Losses were highest for major river deltas.
To help counter this problem, anti-predation programs are in place to protect salmon. Still, predation remains an area where more work needs to be done.
The building of dams and other human-related activities are a significant source of habitat loss for salmon. That said, hydropower-funded programs have helped to restore and protect that same important habitat.
Data show that juvenile salmon typically migrate from the Lower Granite Dam located near the Idaho-Washington border through the Bonneville Dam near Portland, Oregon in approximately two weeks. This is only a few days longer than their migration without the dams.
Dam breaching is likely ineffective where major fish passage improvements have already been made, such as on the lower Columbia and lower Snake rivers.