Officials responsible for managing federal dams in the Northwest say that climate change should guide long-term plans. They say these shifts should guide negotiations over a water treaty with Canada.
Operators with the Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration say higher temperatures and shifts in precipitation could make it harder to manage river levels, reservoirs, and hydropower. The Bonneville Power Administration’s Rick Pendergrass was one of the officials speaking at the Northwest Power and Conservation Council meeting Wednesday.
"We see large generation increases in the fall and winter, and less generation in late summer. Generally with warmer temps, we see load decreases in the winter, and load increases in the summer," Pendergrass said.
In other words, hotter temperatures are expected to drive up power demand in the summer -- at a time when there'll be less water to run the hydro system.
Officials say limited water in the summer could hurt farmers, too -- but mostly those who depend on streams, rather than reservoirs. The Bureau of Reclamation says irrigators in Idaho could be the most affected.
Northwest Power and Conservation Council