Low water in reservoir helps salmon get past dam

Low water in reservoir helps salmon get past dam »Play Video
Juvenile salmon bound for the Pacific Ocean

FALL CREEK, Ore. - Chinook salmon bound for the sea are getting a little help from the Army Corps of Engineers this fall.

The Army Corps has dropped the water level in Fall Creek Reservoir to the historic stream bed. The water level will remain low until it rains again and storage is needed for flood control.

By dropping the water level, the Army Corps improved the ability of juvenile salmon to exit the reservoir and make it to the Willamette and Columbia rivers - and eventually the Pacific Ocean.

Juvenile salmon tend to swim in the top 30 feet of water. The exit from Fall Creek Reservoir for fish is at the bottom. If the water level is too high, the fish can't find the exit, expalined Scott Clemans with the Army Corps.

Clemans called the solution a low-tech, low-cost move with low environmental impact to help an endangered species.

But lowering the water levels only works at some dams.

The techinique won't work with hydroelectric dams or dams with exposed spillways, Clemans said.

Timelapse video of Fall Creek Reservoir draining