Due to the low water year, and public pressure from guides like Aaron Helfrich and Ethan Nickel, EWEB has decided to shut down the Walterville Canal for three weeks starting May 17, and reduce its take from the river from June 7-30th. EWEB’s Walterville Canal is located in the river section between Hendricks and Bellinger, and poses problems for both upstream migrating salmon, and wild trout.
When you run this section, you’ll notice EWEB is taking over half the flow of the river. As Ethan pointed out, in regards to wild trout and aquatic insect populations, the river can only support what the lowest and warmest water conditions of the year will allow. The effects of this year’s drought will be especially damaging in the sections of the river where over half of it is missing.
According to EWEB: The reduced canal flow also is intended to reduce, or possibly eliminate, the need to perform once-a-week shutdowns of the Walterville Canal when too many fish congregate below the tailrace barrier (we haven’t done this for fish-management purposes since 2007). We are hopeful that a steady, but much-reduced, flow in the canal will result in more adult salmon choosing to migrate up the river, instead of into the tailrace. These reduced flows also will provide you with higher and more predicable flow of water in the river bypass section. Our goal is to eliminate sporadic shutdowns for fish-management purposes. However, we will have to monitor this reduced-canal-flow situation daily and cannot predict with certainty whether any single-day shutdowns will be necessary during the period from June 7 through June 30.
EWEB’s shutdown of the canal will coincide with scheduled maintenance. The reduced flows from June 7 to June 30 will “cost EWEB” an estimated $95,000 in lost power generation revenues.
EWEB should be congratulated for helping out wild fish, and anglers need to be ready to continue to hold the utility accountable.