Endangered Species:

Potential Economic Costs of Further Protection for Columbia River Salmon

RCED-93-41: Published: Feb 23, 1993. Publicly Released: Mar 5, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the likely economic impacts and the potential effectiveness of measures to protect certain stocks of wild salmon.

GAO found that: (1) the potential direct net economic costs of undertaking selected salmon-protection measures could range from $2 million to $211 million annually; (2) measures to improve the survival rate of juvenile salmon included drawing down reservoir levels or increasing water spillage over certain dams and augmenting the existing flows in order to reduce the number of juvenile salmon killed; (3) reduced hydroelectric power generation at Columbia River Basin dams, along with dam modifications, accounted for the major share of the estimated costs for wildlife conservation; (4) dam modifications will cost considerably more than estimated; (5) the Bonneville Power Administration estimated that the direct net economic costs in hydroelectric power to draw down four reservoirs will range from $47 million to $122 million annually; (6) the net direct economic costs represent the dollar value of goods and services spent in sectors directly affected by the protection measures; (7) information on the estimated costs of protecting salmon through measures other than changing streamflows was unavailable; and (8) there were no scientific estimates of the degree of success the streamflow measures will have.

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