By Lynne Lynch
Columbia Basin Herald
EPHRATA — The costs associated with the estimated $43 million Chief Joseph Hatchery north of Brewster were planned spending for Grant County PUD’s licensing efforts.
Grant PUD received a new federal license to own and operate its Columbia River dams in 2008, which officials have said help ensure future low-cost power.
But the construction of the Chinook hatchery along with it apparently isn’t the only reason for possible rate increases for PUD customers.
Instead, the overall licensing costs are a factor, said Dorothy Harris, a district spokesperson.
Carrying out the licensing is expected to cost the district about $1 billion over 44 years,according to a 2008 Columbia Basin Herald article.
But the PUD is saving money on the hatchery project through the cost-sharing agreement between Grant PUD, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, she said.
She called it a "positive, not building a full-blown fish hatchery” to meet the federal licensing requirements.
"We won’t be doing this all on our own,” she said.
The fish hatchery, one component of license implementation, was expected for a long time, she said.
Grant PUD is paying about $10 million, or 18.3 percent, for its share of the project’s construction and planning costs. BPA pays a portion with the use of increased borrowing authority through the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
The district also funds the hatchery’s annual maintenance and operations at an anticipated cost of $500,000.
Although the district will be tuned in and involved with day-to-day operations, the PUD doesn’t expect to hire extra employees to work at the hatchery.
The Colville Tribes will be managing and operating the facility.
"The collaborative efforts should allow us to do what’s best for fish recovery efforts,” she said.
Fish recovery is a by-product of doing business in the hydro industry, Harris added.
"For thousands of years, our people depended on salmon not simply as a source of nutritious food, but as essential to our culture and traditions,” stated Colville Business Council Chairman Michael O. Finley. "This magnificent fish is necessary to many of our most important ceremonies, key to both our physical and spiritual strength. Ever since salmon runs were slowed or stopped altogether by dams on the Columbia, tribal leaders have worked to bring the chinook back. Finally that goal will be realized.”
Columbia Basin Herald
Moses Lake, WA
November 23, 2010