Yakima River Scoping Study to Assess Temperature and Dissolved Oxygen Levels to Inform Water Management Options

Project ID: 21040
Principal Investigator: Caroline Ubing
Research Topic: Ecosystem Needs
Funded Fiscal Years: 2021
Keywords: None

Research Question

The purpose of this scoping study is to understand the data, tools and models currently available that describe Yakima river water quality, specifically temperature and dissolved oxygen. The Yakima River is a tributary of the Columbia River in Washington State and is the only migratory pathway for Yakima Basin juvenile salmonids migrating downstream to the ocean and adults returning to their natal streams to spawn. High water temperature and low dissolved oxygen levels in the lower Yakima River create migration barriers and become lethal for both downstream and upstream migrating salmon. The goal of this project is to help advise water managers when flow management options can be used to change water quality conditions to enhance juvenile migration survival and elicit an adult upstream migration response. The focus will be improving water temperatures and dissolved oxygen levels to help adult Sockeye and summer Chinook salmon migrate up the lower Yakima River to higher quality upstream habitat and to enhance juvenile downstream survival for Sockeye, Coho, and Chinook salmon and Mid-Columbia Steelhead (listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act). This study will gather existing data and water quality models, review previous and concurrent work being conducted in the basin and develop project partnerships to support the writing of a full research/conducting proposal for fiscal year 2022. This future conducting proposal aims to create a predictive tool on how and when strategic flow releases at the upstream dams can improve water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels in the lower Yakima River to allow adult salmon to migrate upstream and enhance juvenile salmon downstream migration survival The final product addresses many Reclamation needs across research areas, including Water Operations Models and Decisions Support Systems, Water Delivery Reliability Water Quality and meeting ESA responsibilities.

Need and Benefit

Ultimately, this research aims to build a tool that will provide a decision support system to more optimally manage water delivery for Reclamation dams in support of fish populations. The tool will be paired with forecast products and integrated with existing models to help operators make more informed decisions.

This project also address EN1 (Water Delivery Riliability) and EN 3 (Water Quality).

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Yakima River Scoping Study to Assess Temperature and Dissolved Oxygen Levels to Inform Water Management Options (final, PDF, 3.5MB)
By Kristin Mikkelson, Richard Visser
Report completed on September 30, 2021

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

Return to Research Projects

Last Updated: 6/22/20