Federal Columbia River Power System
Located on the mainstem Columbia River and in several of its major tributaries, the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) comprises 31 hydroelectric projects in the Columbia River Basin and provides about one third of the electricity used in the Pacific Northwest. The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) planned, designed, constructed; and own and operate the federal water projects in the Pacific Northwest.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) markets the power generated from the federal projects and distributes power from federal and non-federal projects through its transmission system. The revenues collected cover the cost of operating and maintaining the projects.
FCRPS and the ESA
FCRPS operations affect 13 anadromous species of salmon and steelhead listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Additionally, two ESA–listed resident species (bull trout and sturgeon) are impacted by the federal dams. map >>
The ESA requires the three agencies that operate the FCRPS, called the FCRPS action agencies (action agencies), to ensure their actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species, or result in the destruction of critical habitat. The Action Agencies consult with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries on FCRPS operations for salmon and steelhead, and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on hydrosystem impacts to sturgeon and bull trout. The regulatory agencies issue biological opinions to the action agencies on the operation and maintenance of the FCRPS.
The Action Agencies are currently operating under the 2019 FCRPS BiOp issued by NOAA Fisheries, working closely with the affected states and 13 tribes. The biological opinion includes hydrosystem, harvest, hatchery, predator control, tributary and estuary habitat, and research, monitoring, and evaluation actions to avoid jeopardy and destruction of critical habitat by improving salmon and steelhead survival. Reclamation implements those BiOp actions associated with Grand Coulee and Hungry Horse dams.
2019 Columbia River System (CRS) Biological Opinion
NOAA Fisheries has issued a final biological opinion on the continued operation and maintenance of the Columbia River System (CRS), including several mitigation and research, monitoring, and evaluation programs starting in April 2019. The biological opinion considers the effects of the CRS and related mitigation programs on 13 species of salmon and steelhead along with other Endangered Species Act–listed species under NOAA Fisheries’ jurisdiction.
A new action is the CRS Action Agencies’ flexible spill operation. This operation is the result of an agreement between the CRS Action Agencies and some regional states and tribes. NOAA Fisheries was not directly involved in these negotiations. The operation will implement a flexible approach to providing additional spill as a tool intended to benefit juvenile spring fish downstream passage in concert with managing the CRS for multiple Congressionally authorized purposes, including power generation to assure the Pacific Northwest an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply.
Columbia River System Operations Final Environmental Impact Statement
On September 29, 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration released the joint Record of Decision for the Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement.
The joint ROD commits the agencies to implementing immediate and long-term actions related to the ongoing operations, maintenance and configuration of 14 federal dams that compose the Columbia River System.
The plan includes actions that support continued, reliable water resource benefits and balances the purposes of the federal dams while specifically supporting ongoing and new improvements for species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The signing of the joint ROD accomplishes a priority item in the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West issued in October 2018.
A recorded virtual event commemorating the signing of the joint ROD, as well as the final EIS and joint ROD are available on the project website at www.crso.info.
The Federal Caucus
Reclamation participates in the Federal Caucus, a group of ten agencies with natural resource responsibilities in the Columbia River Basin. Visit http://www.salmonrecovery.gov for information about the Federal Caucus and its activities to help promote recovery of ESA–listed species in the Columbia River Basin.
Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement - Scoping
Bonneville Power Administration
Federal Caucus (www.salmonrecovery.gov)
Fish Passage Center
US Army Corps of Engineers
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Public Affairs Office
Bureau of Reclamation
Pacific Northwest Region
Columbia/Snake Salmon Recovery Office
1150 N Curtis Road, Suite 100
Boise, Idaho 83706