Report Says Climate Change Is Likely To Reduce Hydropower In The Northwest

May 7, 2014

If the Northwest continues to operate dams as it does now, the region could be left with 20 percent less hydropower by 2080.

The Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.
Credit Joe Nicora / Flickr

  That's according to the Northwest Climate Assessment report. It's part of a national climate assessment that looks at all the impacts of climate change nationwide.

The Northwest gets 75 percent of its electricity from dams. As climate change reduces snow pack in the mountains, experts say that will leave less water in rivers in the summertime.

Amy Snover of the University of Washington is one of the lead authors of the report. She says that means less water available for dams and salmon. And power managers will be forced to choose between the two.

"You can reduce some of the negative impacts on hydropower production but you can't do that and maintain the fish flows," Snover said.

Regional power managers say climate change is leading them to reconsider how they will operate dams in the future.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network