We analyzed 6 years (2004-09) of passage and survival data collected at McNary Dam to examine how spill bay operations affect survival of juvenile salmonids passing through the spillway at McNary Dam. We also examined the relations between spill bay operations and survival through the juvenile fish bypass in an attempt to determine if survival through the bypass is influenced by spill bay operations. We used a Cormack-Jolly-Seber release-recapture model (CJS model) to determine how the survival of juvenile salmonids passing through McNary Dam relates to spill bay operations. Results of these analyses, while not designed to yield predictive models, can be used to help develop dam-operation strategies that optimize juvenile salmonid survival. For example, increasing total discharge typically had a positive effect on both spillway and bypass survival for all species except sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). Likewise, an increase in spill bay discharge improved spillway survival for yearling Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), and an increase in spillway discharge positively affected spillway survival for juvenile steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The strong linear relation between increased spill and increased survival indicates that increasing the amount of water through the spillway is one strategy that could be used to improve spillway survival for yearling Chinook salmon and juvenile steelhead. However, increased spill did not improve spillway survival for subyearling Chinook salmon and sockeye salmon. Our results indicate that a uniform spill pattern would provide the highest spillway survival and bypass survival for subyearling Chinook salmon. Conversely, a predominantly south spill pattern provided the highest spillway survival for yearling Chinook salmon and juvenile steelhead. Although spill pattern was not a factor for spillway survival of sockeye salmon, spill bay operations that optimize passage through the north and south spill bays maximized spillway survival for this species. Bypass survival of yearling Chinook salmon could be improved by optimizing conditions to facilitate bypass passage at night, but the method to do so is not apparent from this analysis because photoperiod was the only factor affecting bypass survival based on the best and only supported model. Bypass survival of juvenile steelhead would benefit from lower water temperatures and increased total and spillway discharge. Likewise, subyearling Chinook salmon bypass survival would improve with lower water temperatures, increased total discharge, and a uniform spill pattern.
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USGS Numbered Series
A multi-year analysis of spillway survival for juvenile salmonids as a function of spill bay operations at McNary Dam, Washington and Oregon, 2004-09