For the first time in nearly a century, Tacoma Water will release salmon into the upper Green River watershed — a move that will prepare that part of the river for salmon spawning and survival well into the future.
Salmon have not had access to the 100 miles of river and streams in the upper Green River since Tacoma Water built its system in 1911. With the completion of the Second Supply Project pipeline, Tacoma Water modified its system to allow for fish passage. It will now move fish that have swum up the newly constructed fish ladder into holding tanks to a fish transport truck for release into the upper watershed.
The Green River fisheries co-managers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, have identified several goals for releasing salmon into the river:
— Provide nutrients to benefit the aquatic food chain and upper Green River watershed ecosystem.
— Begin turning over and cleaning streambed gravels to reduce fine sediment levels and improve conditions for egg incubation.
— Provide Tacoma Water staff the opportunity to operate its newly constructed adult fish passage facility.
Tacoma Water will initially release pink salmon into the upper Green River to test its fish passage facility, and may see passage of other types of fish in the future. The timing of the passage of these salmon species depends upon the completion and evaluation of downstream fish passage facilities currently under construction at the Howard Hanson Dam.
Howard Hanson Dam is an Army Corps of Engineers flood control project located about three-and-a-half miles upstream of the Tacoma intake. The reservoir behind the dam is about four miles long. Tacoma Water will release the fish into the Green River upstream of the reservoir. The release is far enough away from the municipal water diversion that Tacoma Water anticipates no adverse impacts on drinking water quality.