Ice Harbor Dam Celebrates Ten Years of Saving Salmon Through Suc - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Ice Harbor Dam Celebrates Ten Years of Saving Salmon Through Successful Spillway

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BURBANK, WA. -- The Ice Harbor Dam celebrated a monumental day for a very important piece of technology that started in our area and is now used around the Northwest to help save the lives of migrating salmon. 

The spillway weir, as it's called, celebrated it's 10th birthday Wednesday. That's a decade of allowing the salmon that are migrating through the Snake River to co-exist with the tremendous amounts of hydro electricity that are being produced right here.

Wednesday morning, inside the Ice Harbor Dam, it was all about celebrating success.

"It's nice to be able to really take some time to really celebrate accomplishment," Elliot Mainzer, from Bonnevile Power Administration said. 

It's been ten years since the Ice Harbor Spillway was installed allowing salmon swimming on the top 10 feet of the river the chance to make it past the dam safely.

In years before the spillway was installed, salmon would would bunch up in front of the dam making them easy targets for prey. Now, more than 90 percent of the salmon pass unharmed. 

"The bottom line is getting as many of those juvenile fish that are coming down the river to make it to their life in the ocean and then come back and produce the next generation," Michael Milstein, a NOAA Fisheries Expert. 

"Improvements in fish numbers in the last ten years have more than proven that this was the right step to take," Rob Rich of the Columbia River Towboat Association said.

The day was also about celebrating the success of this revolutionary technology. 

"The Snake and Columbia River is really the place where this technology was developed," Milstein said. "And it's really probably the most advanced fish passage that we have in the country."

And the technology is constantly changing at the Ice Harbor Dam. One project could install even safer turbines so even more salmon survive their passage through the dam. 

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