By HydroWorld.com/Hydro Review
WASHINGTON, D.C. (PennWell) — The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned a Montana state Supreme Court decision that would have required energy provider PPL Montana to pay US$41 million in back rent for the use of riverbeds under portions of three Montana rivers.
PPL Montana acquired private riparian lands for 10 facilities along the Missouri, Madison and Clark Fork rivers and pays rent to the U.S. for the use of adjoining federal lands. Read more
By K.C. Mehaffey
The Wenatchee World
WENATCHEE — Several January storms that dumped snow in the mountains above North Central Washington helped bring the region back to a near-average snowpack, after a December with only half of the snowpack of a normal year.
But another string of clear, dry days could bring us right back to a poor snow year, says Scott Pattee, water supply specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“This time of year, every day we don’t see mountain accumulations, we drop in percentage,” he said. “Right now, we should be collecting more snow, but instead we’re losing it. And the forecast isn’t looking any better.” Read more
By Ted Sickinger
A thin snowpack and predictions of low runoff this summer have the Bonneville Power Administration forecasting a financial loss for the year, and Northwest water watchers hoping for more snowy weather before the winter’s through.
In a forecast issued Friday, the National Weather Service’s Northwest River Forecast Center predicted that water flows past The Dalles Dam will be 79.2 million acre feet between January and July. That would be 74 percent of the 30-year average for the period — 107.3 million acre feet — and the eighth lowest flow in the past 40 years.
Anxiety levels remain fairly low. February and March can still be big snow months in the Columbia River Basin, filling the region’s virtual reservoir. But the numbers have gotten progressively worse since the early bird forecast in December. As winter pushes on and the big snows fail to fly, the predictions begin to harden into reality. Read more
By Annette Cary
Army Corps officials have identified the source of leaks in Ice Harbor Dam equipment after an oily sheen was seen on water below the Snake River dam.
As much as 1,680 gallons of transformer oil contaminated with small amounts of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are estimated to have leaked slowly from three of six cooling units at Ice Harbor, according to the Corps.
Pinhole leaks apparently developed in metal tubing in the cooling units and grew over several months, it said.
Based on oil inventory records, the Corps believes the leaks started after June. Read more
By Gordon Oliver
While others have turned to wind, waves and sun rays for new sources of power, Hydrovolts is going with the flow of hydropower.
The Seattle-based startup sees vast potential for power and profits in the irrigation channels that carry water in much of the world. The company has designed a small-scale turbine that can generate electricity from slow-moving waterways, and it’s about to build prototypes at a small manufacturing plant in Ridgefield.
“Technology and need have coincided to provide new opportunities for hydro,” said Eli Lamb, Hydrovolts’ Portland-based managing director, at a recent Southwest Washington PubTalk presentation. Read more