A multi-year analysis of passage and survival at McNary Dam, 2004-09

Open-File Report 2011-1230



We analyzed 6 years (2004–09) of passage and survival data collected at McNary Dam to determine how dam operations and environmental conditions affect passage and survival of juvenile salmonids. A multinomial logistic regression was used to examine how environmental variables and dam operations relate to passage behavior of juvenile salmonids at McNary Dam. We used the Cormack-Jolly-Seber release-recapture model to determine how the survival of juvenile salmonids passing through McNary Dam relates to environmental variables and dam operations. Total project discharge and the proportion of flow passing the spillway typically had a positive effect on survival for all species and routes. As the proportion of water through the spillway increased, the number of fish passing the spillway increased, as did overall survival. Additionally, survival generally was higher at night. There was no meaningful difference in survival for fish that passed through the north or south portions of the spillway or powerhouse. Similarly, there was no difference in survival for fish released in the north, middle, or south portions of the tailrace. For subyearling Chinook salmon migrating during the summer season, increased temperatures had a drastic effect on passage and survival. As temperature increased, survival of subyearling Chinook salmon decreased through all passage routes and the number of fish that passed through the turbines increased. During years when the temporary spillway weirs (TSWs) were installed, passage through the spillway increased for spring migrants. However, due to the changes made in the location of the TSW between years and the potential effect of other confounding environmental conditions, it is not certain if the increase in spillway passage was due solely to the presence of the TSWs. The TSWs appeared to improve forebay survival during years when they were operated.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
A multi-year analysis of passage and survival at McNary Dam, 2004-09
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Western Fisheries Research Center
viii, 122 p.; Appendixes
First page:
Last page:
United States
Other Geospatial:
Coumbia River;Snake River