skip to main content

Title: Effects of Hyporheic Exchange Flows on Egg Pocket Water Temperature in Snake River Fall Chinook Salmon Spawning Areas, 2002-2003 Final Report.

The development of the Snake River hydroelectric system has affected fall Chinook salmon smolts by shifting their migration timing to a period (mid- to late-summer) when downstream reservoir conditions are unfavorable for survival. Subsequent to the Snake River Chinook salmon fall-run Evolutionary Significant Unit being listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act, recovery planning has included changes in hydrosystem operations (e.g., summer flow augmentation) to improve water temperature and flow conditions during the juvenile Chinook salmon summer migration period. In light of the limited water supplies from the Dworshak reservoir for summer flow augmentation, and the associated uncertainties regarding benefits to migrating fall Chinook salmon smolts, additional approaches for improved smolt survival need to be evaluated. This report describes research conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) that evaluated relationships among river discharge, hyporheic zone characteristics, and egg pocket water temperature in Snake River fall Chinook salmon spawning areas. This was a pilot-scale study to evaluate these relationships under existing operations of Hells Canyon Dam (i.e., without any prescribed manipulations of river discharge) during the 2002-2003 water year. The project was initiated in the context of examining the potential for improving juvenile Snake River fall Chinook salmon survivalmore » by modifying the discharge operations of Hells Canyon Dam. The potential for improved survival would be gained by increasing the rate at which early life history events proceed (i.e., incubation and emergence), thereby allowing smolts to migrate through downstream reservoirs during early- to mid-summer when river conditions are more favorable for survival. PNNL implemented this research project at index sites throughout 160 km of the Hells Canyon Reach (HCR) of the Snake River. The HCR extends from Hells Canyon Dam (river kilometer [rkm] 399) downstream to the upper end of Lower Granite Reservoir near rkm 240. We randomly selected 14 fall Chinook salmon spawning locations as study sites, which represents 25% of the most used spawning areas throughout the HCR. Interactions between river water and pore water within the riverbed (i.e., hyporheic zone) at each site were quantified through the use of self-contained temperature and water level data loggers suspended inside of piezometers. Surrounding the piezometer cluster at each site were 3 artificial egg pockets. In mid-November 2002, early-eyed stage fall Chinook salmon eggs were placed inside of perforated polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubes, along with a temperature data logger, and buried within the egg pockets. Fall Chinook salmon eggs were also incubated in the laboratory for the purpose of developing growth curves that could be used as indicators of emergence timing. The effects of discharge on vertical hydrologic exchange between the river and riverbed were inferred from measured temperature gradients between the river and riverbed, and the application of a numerical model. The hydrologic regime during the 2002-2003 sampling period exhibited one of the lowest, most stable daily discharge patterns of any of the previous 12 water years. The vertical hydraulic gradients (VHG) between the river and the riverbed suggested the potential for predominantly small magnitude vertical exchange. The VHG also showed little relationship to changes in river discharge at most sites. Despite the relatively small vertical hydraulic gradients at most sites, results from the numerical modeling of riverbed pore water velocity and hyporheic zone temperatures suggested that there was significant vertical hydrologic exchange during all time periods. The combined results of temperature monitoring and numerical modeling indicate that only 2 of 14 sites were significantly affected by short-term (hourly to daily) large magnitude changes in discharge. Although the two sites exhibited acute flux reversals between river water and hyporheic water resulting from short-term large magnitude changes in discharge, these flux reversals had minimal effect on emergence timing estimates. Indeed, the emergence timing estimates at all sites were largely unaffected by the changes in river stage resulting from hydropower operations at Hells Canyon Dam. Our results indicate that the range of emergence timing estimates due to differences among the eggs from different females can be as large as or larger than the emergence timing estimates due to site differences (i.e., bed temperatures among sites). We conclude that during the 2002-2003 fall Chinook salmon incubation period, hydropower operations of Hells Canyon Dam had an insignificant effect on fry emergence timing at the study sites.« less
; ;  [1]
  1. (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
R&D Project: 2002-078-00; TRN: US200916%%194
DOE Contract Number:
652 REL 23
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Portland, OR (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States