ALTMAR, NY – The whitewater release scheduled for Aug. 6 and 7 on the Salmon River has been canceled due to low water levels on the Salmon River reservoirs.
The decision was made Tuesday by the executive committee of the Salmon River Flow Management Advisory Team, made up of NYS DEC Fisheries, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Brookfield Renewable Power.
The committee determined that present reservoir levels on the Salmon River are too low for the Aug. 6 and 7 recreational whitewater release. Present elevation of the reservoir is at 929 feet elevation, which is 6 feet under the target level of 935 feet. The release would reduce the reservoir levels an additional two feet, putting levels below the 2007 drought conditions that forced drastic reductions in base flows throughout the fall of 2007.
Committee members said that in 2007, the river level was too low to allow sufficient runs of salmon to the NYS Salmon River Fish Hatchery for egg take, and it was necessary to close the fly fishing catch and release section of the river to angling for two months. Those actions were necessary in 2007 to protect the salmon that did reach the upper river near the hatchery. By canceling the release it is hoped to avoid reductions in base flows as the season progresses.
Priorities for non-routine flow management, as prescribed in the license of the Salmon River Hydro Project, are: (1) to maintain or enhance hydropower production; (2) to maintain or enhance fishery quality in the lower river; and (3) enhance midsummer whitewater opportunity.
Without significant rainfall in the forecast, records show that since 2001, reservoir levels of 929 feet elevation in August resulted four times in not being able to maintain base flows in the lower river and cancellation of the Labor Day release. Releases planned for this September are still in effect, weather permitting.
The Flow Management Advisory Team said that they regret the inconvenience posed by the cancellation of the whitewater release to those planning to participate in activities this weekend, however, the priorities set in the license of hydropower production and maintaining base flows for the lower river must take priority.