Summary of juvenile salmonid passage and survival at McNary Dam-Acoustic survival studies, 2006-09

Open-File Report 2011-1179

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers



Passage and survival data were collected at McNary Dam between 2006 and 2009. These data have provided critical information for resource managers to implement structural and operational changes designed to improve the survival of juvenile salmonids as they migrate past the dam. Given the importance of these annual studies, the primary objectives of this report were to summarize the findings of these annual studies to ensure that passage and survival metrics are consistently calculated and reported across all years and to consolidate this information in a single document, thereby making it easier to reference. It is worth noting that this report does not contain all the information from all the annual reports. The intent of this report was to summarize the key findings from multiple years of research. The reader is encouraged to reference the annual reports if more detailed information is needed. Chapter 1 summarizes existing behavior, passage, and survival results for fish released 10 rkm upstream of McNary Dam and from the McNary Dam tailrace during 2006-09. Chapter 2 summarizes existing behavior, passage, and survival results for fish released in the mid-Columbia River and detected at McNary Dam during 2006-09. Results from 2006 indicated that higher spill discharge generally resulted in higher fish passage through spill, and in turn, higher fish survival through the entire dam. Within the spillway, passage effectiveness was highest for the south spill bays, adjacent to the powerhouse. Increased passage in this area, combined with detailed 3-dimensional approach paths, aided in the design and location of the temporary spillway weirs (TSWs) at McNary Dam prior to the 2007 migration of juvenile salmonids. During the 2007 study, the TSWs were tested under two spill treatments during the spring and summer: a "2006 Modified spill," and a "2007 test spill." In the spring, slightly higher discharge through spill bays 14-17 was the primary difference between the spill treatments tested. During the summer, spill treatments were characterized by a high (60 percent) and low (40 percent) percent flow of the total discharge going through the spillway. Flow through the TSWs represented about 7-8 percent of total project discharge in spring and about 10-11 percent of total project discharge in summer. Overall, the TSWs passed 24 percent of yearling Chinook salmon and 27 percent of subyearling Chinook salmon, but passed about 65 percent of juvenile steelhead. In spring, there was little evidence for an effect of spill treatment on either fish passage or survival, however, this was not surprising given there was a relatively small difference between spill treatments. For subyearling Chinook salmon during the summer study, high spill discharge resulted in higher fish passage through the spillway and lower fish passage through the powerhouse. Season wide survival (paired-release) for yearling and subyearling Chinook salmon was 0.98 and 0.92 (SE<0.04) through TSW 20, and 0.96 and 0.97 (SE<0.04) through TSW 22, respectively. Season-wide survival (single-release) for juvenile steelhead was 0.98 (SE=0.024) through TSW 20, and 0.90 (SE=0.02) through TSW 22. The extent to which location and structural design contributed to the differences observed between the two TSWs was uncertain. Nonetheless, the TSWs performed similarly to surface-oriented fish passage structures at other locations and appear to be a useful fish passage alternative at McNary Dam. The 2008 and 2009 studies confirmed previous results showing high survival for fish passing through the TSWs, especially juvenile steelhead. Although the number of all fish species passing through the TSWs was lower in 2008 and 2009 compared to 2007, fish passage efficiency for juvenile steelhead and subyearling Chinook salmon was higher in years with the TSWs, compared to 2006, before the TSWs were in place.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Summary of juvenile salmonid passage and survival at McNary Dam-Acoustic survival studies, 2006-09
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Western Fisheries Research Center
iv, 114 p.; Appendices: A, B, C, D, E, F
United States
Other Geospatial:
Columbia River