Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program
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Project Summary

Project 2002-013-01 - Water Entity - CBWTP
Project Number:
2002-013-01
Title:
Water Entity - CBWTP
Summary:
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council established the Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program (CBWTP) in 2002 in response to Reasonable and Prudent Alternative 151 of the 2000 Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion and Provision A.8 of the Council’s 2000 Fish and Wildlife Program. The primary focus of the CBWTP is to fund water transactions that restore streamflow on ecologically-significant Columbia Basin tributaries. The CBWTP is administered through a partnership between BPA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
Subbasin plans and other habitat assessments throughout the Columbia Basin cite inadequate streamflows as a key factor limiting the productivity of both anadromous and resident fish species. Water transactions provide an effective and appropriate response to this key limiting factor. Restored streamflow benefit multiple fish species, particularly Chinook and Steelhead.
The CBWTP works through nine qualified local entities (QLEs). The QLEs include three state water agencies and six nonprofit organizations (see attached list). These QLEs receive funds to implement and monitor water transactions in multiple priority watersheds throughout the Columbia Basin. These water transactions have included a number of innovative methods, including split-season leases, source switches, permanent purchases and water produced through significant capital investments in irrigation efficiency projects. The term of these deals has varied from short-term to permanent. The CBWTP anticipates that transactions funded will be increasingly long-term and permanent deals providing instream benefits beyond the year of funding.
Proposer:
None
Proponent Orgs:
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (Non-Profit)
Starting FY:
2003
Ending FY:
2019
Stage:
Implementation - Project Status Report
Area:
Province Subbasin %
Basinwide - 100.00%
Purpose:
Habitat
Emphasis:
Restoration/Protection
Focal Species:
All Anadromous Fish
Bass, Largemouth
Bass, Smallmouth
Carp, Common
Catfish
Chinook - All Populations
Chinook - Deschutes River Summer/Fall ESU
Chinook - Lower Columbia River ESU
Chinook - Mid-Columbia River Spring ESU
Chinook - Snake River Fall ESU
Chinook - Snake River Spring/Summer
Chinook - Snake River Spring/Summer ESU
Chinook - Upper Columbia River Spring ESU
Chinook - Upper Columbia River Summer/Fall ESU
Chinook - Upper Willamette River ESU
Chub, Oregon
Chum - Columbia River ESU
Coho - Lower Columbia River ESU
Coho - Unspecified Population
Crappie, Black
Crappie, White
Cutthroat Trout, Coastal - All Anadromous Populations
Cutthroat Trout, Coastal - Resident Populations
Cutthroat Trout, Coastal - Southwest Washington/Columbia River ESU
Cutthroat Trout, Westslope
Cutthroat Trout, Yellowstone
Freshwater Mussels
Kokanee
Lamprey, Pacific
Lamprey, River
Lamprey, Western Brook
Other Resident
Perch, Yellow
Pikeminnow, Northern
Sockeye - Snake River ESU
Steelhead - All Populations
Steelhead - Lower Columbia River DPS
Steelhead - Middle Columbia River DPS
Steelhead - Snake River DPS
Steelhead - Upper Columbia River DPS
Steelhead - Upper Willamette River DPS
Sturgeon, White - All Populations except Kootenai R. DPS
Trout, Brook
Trout, Brown
Trout, Bull
Trout, Interior Redband
Trout, Lake
Trout, Rainbow
Walleye
Whitefish, Mountain
Wildlife
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 70.0%   Resident: 30.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%
Special:
None

No photos have been uploaded yet for this project.

Summary of Budgets

To view all expenditures for all fiscal years, click "Project Exp. by FY"

Expense SOY Budget Working Budget Contracted Amount Modified Contract Amount Expenditures *
FY2018 (Previous) $4,372,832 $4,372,832 $4,372,832 $4,372,832 $4,372,026

BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) $4,372,832 $4,372,832 $4,372,832 $4,372,026
FY2019 (Current) $4,372,832 $4,372,832 $2,566,733 $2,566,733 ($17,675)

BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) $4,372,832 $2,566,733 $2,566,733 ($17,675)
FY2020 (Next) $0 $0 $0 $0

* Expenditures data includes accruals and are based on data through 31-Oct-2018

Decided Budget Transfers  (FY2018 - FY2020)

Acct FY Acct Type Amount Fund Budget Decision Date
FY2018 Expense $4,372,832 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) FY18 SOY Budgets 07/17/2017
FY2019 Expense $4,372,832 From: BiOp FCRPS 2008 (non-Accord) FY19 Q1 Flat 07/30/2018

Pending Budget Decision?  No


Actual Project Cost Share

Current Fiscal Year — 2019
Cost Share Partner Total Proposed Contribution Total Confirmed Contribution
There are no project cost share contributions to show.
Previous Fiscal Years
Fiscal Year Total Contributions % of Budget
2018 $1,701,116 (Draft) 28 % (Draft)
2017 $1,972,156 (Draft) 31 % (Draft)
2016 $3,703,065 (Draft) 46 % (Draft)
2015 $8,335,477 (Draft) 66 % (Draft)
2014 $1,603,411 (Draft) 27 % (Draft)
2013 $5,082,382 (Draft) 54 % (Draft)
2012 $2,905,761 (Draft) 41 % (Draft)
2011 $2,654,584 (Draft) 39 % (Draft)
2010 $1,838,971 (Draft) 31 % (Draft)
2009 $3,427,338 (Draft) 41 % (Draft)
2008 $5,443,631 (Draft) 52 % (Draft)
2007 $2,722,175 (Draft) 35 % (Draft)

Contracts

The table below contains contracts with the following statuses: Active, Complete, History, Issued.
Expense Contracts:
Number Contractor Name Title Status Contracted Amount Dates
CR-322870 SOW 2002-013-01 EXP WATER ENTITY - CBWTP Pending $0
15128 SOW National Fish and Wildlife Foundation PROJECT NO. 2002-013-01 WATER ENTITY History $2,532,778 10/1/2003 - 9/30/2004
19625 SOW National Fish and Wildlife Foundation PI 200201301 WATER ENTITY- CBWTP (NPCC VERSION) History $3,140,220 10/1/2004 - 9/30/2005
BPA-007332 Bonneville Power Administration Hancock Springs MC Conservation Easement Active $500,000 10/1/2004 - 9/30/2005
24366 SOW National Fish and Wildlife Foundation PI 2002-013-01 EXP WATER ENTITY CBWTP History $3,315,496 10/1/2005 - 9/30/2006
BPA-007333 Bonneville Power Administration Heath MC Conservation Easement Active $1,000,000 10/1/2005 - 9/30/2006
BPA-003389 Bonneville Power Administration Tall Timbers Conservation Easement Active $10,606 10/1/2006 - 9/30/2007
BPA-003787 Bonneville Power Administration Mid-Methow Riparian Conservation Easement Active $416,698 10/1/2007 - 9/30/2008
BPA-004464 Bonneville Power Administration Witte Place Conservation Easement Active $396,820 10/1/2008 - 9/30/2009
BPA-005033 Bonneville Power Administration FY10 Water Entity NWPPC Active $0 10/1/2009 - 9/30/2010
BPA-005432 Bonneville Power Administration FY11 Water Entity/TBL Active $0 10/1/2010 - 9/30/2011
BPA-006210 Bonneville Power Administration Water Entity NWPPC Active $0 10/1/2011 - 9/30/2012
BPA-006860 Bonneville Power Administration Water Entity NWPPC Active $1,068 10/1/2012 - 9/30/2013
77341 SOW National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 2002-013-01 EXP WATER ENTITY - CBWTP Issued $4,372,832 10/1/2017 - 9/30/2018
80638 SOW National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 2002-013-01 EXP NFWF WATER ENTITY - CBWTP Signature $2,566,733 10/1/2018 - 9/30/2019



Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):26
Completed:22
On time:22
Status Reports
Completed:53
On time:23
Avg Days Late:16

Earliest Subsequent           Accepted Count of Contract Deliverables
Contract Contract(s) Title Contractor Start End Status Reports Complete Green Yellow Red Total % Green and Complete Canceled
19625 24366, 29462, 35046, 39224, 43869, 49753, 54539, 58768, 62416, 66153, 69882, 73531, 77341, 80638 PI 200201301 WATER ENTITY- CBWTP (NPCC VERSION) National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 10/2004 10/2004 Signature 51 1654 50 0 125 1829 93.17% 8
BPA-007332 Hancock Springs MC Conservation Easement Bonneville Power Administration 10/2004 10/2004 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
BPA-007333 Heath MC Conservation Easement Bonneville Power Administration 10/2005 10/2005 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
BPA-003389 Tall Timbers Conservation Easement Bonneville Power Administration 10/2006 10/2006 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
BPA-003787 Mid-Methow Riparian Conservation Easement Bonneville Power Administration 10/2007 10/2007 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
BPA-004464 Witte Place Conservation Easement Bonneville Power Administration 10/2008 10/2008 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
42461 2002-013-01 EXP WATER ENTITY - METHOW CONSERVANCY Methow Conservancy 05/2009 05/2009 Closed 2 3 0 0 0 3 100.00% 1
BPA-005033 FY10 Water Entity NWPPC Bonneville Power Administration 10/2009 10/2009 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
BPA-005432 FY11 Water Entity/TBL Bonneville Power Administration 10/2010 10/2010 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
BPA-006210 Water Entity NWPPC Bonneville Power Administration 10/2011 10/2011 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
BPA-006860 Water Entity NWPPC Bonneville Power Administration 10/2012 10/2012 Active 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Project Totals 53 1657 50 0 125 1832 93.18% 9


The table content is updated frequently and thus contains more recent information than what was in the original proposal reviewed by ISRP and Council.

Review: RME / AP Category Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2002-013-01-NPCC-20110113
Project: 2002-013-01 - Water Entity - CBWTP
Review: RME / AP Category Review
Proposal: RMECAT-2002-013-01
Proposal State: Pending BPA Response
Approved Date: 6/10/2011
Recommendation: Fund (Qualified)
Comments: Implement with condition through FY 2016: Sponsor to address ISRP qualifications in 2012 contract.
Publish Date: 08/23/2011 BPA Response: Agree
Conditions:
Council Condition #1 Qualifications: The Water Transaction Program should complete the development of compliance, implementation, and effectiveness monitoring protocols as soon as possible. Given the lead entity is the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the proponents should be able to develop their monitoring program fairly quickly. Cost monitoring is needed. Thirty six percent of the budget is to support QLEs. This is a big investment, and CBWTP should systematically evaluate how to keep acquisition and administration costs as low as possible. They could provide some analytical evidence of why this amount is needed to implement the project, because NFWF as the lead entity should be able to assess the cost-effectiveness of the various approaches. This could be summarized in the annual meetings so that each QLE can learn from the experiences of other QLEs. The Consultant’s evaluation report did not address the question of administrative efficiency or cost per acre foot of leased or acquired water under different acquisition strategies. This could include a comparison of the annualized costs for a lease (with the accompanying multiple transaction costs) and outright permanent acquisitions (with the one-time accompanying transaction).
BPA Response to Council Condition #1: Accept CBWTP is working on the development of monitoring protocols during the next year. Cost monitoring and analysis of transactional strategies is also underway, along with systematic analysis of costs and implementation of water transactions. Cost comparisons under different acquisition strategies is expected as part of the transactional analysis. It is BPA's goal to maintain a cost effective program.

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2002-013-01-ISRP-20101015
Project: 2002-013-01 - Water Entity - CBWTP
Review: RME / AP Category Review
Proposal Number: RMECAT-2002-013-01
Completed Date: 12/17/2010
Final Round ISRP Date: 12/17/2010
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria
Final Round ISRP Comment:
The responses to the ISRP's questions were reasonably thorough. Although we remain concerned that monitoring may not get the attention it deserves, the project proponents have satisfactorily addressed the majority of our questions. We therefore believe that this project meets scientific criteria, with the following qualifications:

Qualification 1: The Water Transaction Program should complete the development of compliance, implementation, and effectiveness monitoring protocols as soon as possible. Given the lead entity is the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the proponents should be able to develop their monitoring program fairly quickly.

Qualification 2: Cost monitoring is needed. Thirty six percent of the budget is to support QLEs. This is a big investment, and CBWTP should systematically evaluate how to keep acquisition and administration costs as low as possible. They could provide some analytical evidence of why this amount is needed to implement the project, because NFWF as the lead entity should be able to assess the cost-effectiveness of the various approaches. This could be summarized in the annual meetings so that each QLE can learn from the experiences of other QLEs. The Consultant’s evaluation report did not address the question of administrative efficiency or cost per acre foot of leased or acquired water under different acquisition strategies. This could include a comparison of the annualized costs for a lease (with the accompanying multiple transaction costs) and outright permanent acquisitions (with the one-time accompanying transaction).

Other comments:

The proponents provided a helpful clarification of the budget request, including a $15M+ cost share that will help lower their request to BPA. The administrative costs still seem a little high, but that may be the result of legal expenses associated with water transactions. Additional clarification is provided in the response to the ISRP's comment about transaction costs being an integral part of the program. The response to the ISRP's question about the cost-effectiveness of individual transactions was illuminating, but it would have been aided by an example how the analysis affected an individual transaction.

The proponents are making some progress toward monitoring. The response states that the flow compliance monitoring protocols have been completed, and development of biological monitoring protocols is planned for FY 2011. Adequate monitoring is essential to ensure that ecological assumptions about the impacts of flow on habitat and population responses are reasonable and sufficient to achieve desired results. The wisdom of limiting the monitoring budget to 5% of total budget should be evaluated regularly to ensure the remaining portion of the budget is invested in the best manner.

Examples of coordination with other restoration programs were given for two streams, as the ISRP requested. The coordination with regional RM&E efforts to achieve implementation and effectiveness monitoring goals was adequately addressed. The ISRP realizes that the 5% monitoring cap is still used, but we remain unsure why project proponents seem unwilling to "up the ante" in situations where the information gained would be worth the effort and expense.

We wish the logic models for priority stream reaches (to be developed by individual QLEs) were further along so we could see how one would be used. The ISRP acknowledges, however, that they have not yet been developed.

The graphs showing trends in water acquisitions through time were helpful. What assumptions are being made about the possibility that temporary acquisitions will be made permanent?

The Big Timber Creek and Teanaway acquisition examples were useful. Additionally, the explanations of how those agreements have become more sophisticated with time help us understand how they address flow-related limiting factors.

The response to the ISRP's question about QA/QC emphasized stream gauging. While this is needed, a little more discussion about quality assurance for the biological monitoring activities would have been useful.

The response clarifies the budget amount as lower than the earlier impression. However the $23.4 M budget is still large, and the $8.4 M for administration of the program is high. It is the large budget share (36%) dedicated to the transactions costs that provide the basis for the ISRP recommendation that these transactions costs associated with various approaches to water transactions be analyzed.

The response does a better job establishing the connection between the CBWTP and other regional programs concerned with improving flows. It also provides detail on the types of connections that are required to be established within each QLE transaction proposal and the process of ranking transaction proposals. It establishes contributions made by staff of QLEs to the subbasin plans.

With regard to evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, and cost effectiveness of various processes and methods employed by the QLEs, the response described a process by which the QLEs share information and learn by doing. It also references and provides a link to a biennial report produced by WestWater Research that analyzes the cost-effectiveness of various flow restoration methods and approaches. However it does not summarize the findings of these two processes. Given that program administration is such a large budget component, the proposal should contain some evaluation of lessons learned about the transactions costs and efficacy of various approaches, e.g., by evaluating the performance of program administration. The table on costs by transaction type is an example of the type of data that would be evaluated.

With regard to monitoring outcomes, the response indicates that in response to the 2007 program evaluation recommendations, compliance effectiveness protocols have been developed, to be followed by the development of biological monitoring protocols in 2011. These protocols are being developed in coordination with Council and other regional agency staff. Given the relatively small proportion (5%) of the CBWTP budget dedicated to monitoring and the limited technical monitoring capacity within QLEs, it is not clear how specifically this monitoring will be implemented.

With regard to the degree of permanence of the present acquisitions and the implications of this time horizon for future expenditures, the response states "The CBWTP funds deals of various lengths, from annual leases to permanent acquisitions. We have found that all of these transactions serve a purpose and make the portfolio of the program stronger." This is another example of an area in which an assertion would be strengthened by evaluation. For example, what purpose does the diversity of transactions serve? And how will portfolio strength be measured?

The response does address the question of future availability of water under existing contracts, but does not really answer the issue raised by the ISRP: "the program seems to face a future of declining amount of water acquired, as some existing agreements expire."

The response states, "While the amount of acre feet secured in stream does decrease through time because of the expiration of temporary deals, the program continues to increase the amount of water that will be protected instream long-term and permanently." So the question is, what is the net effect?

In response to the ISRP comment: "Likely the contribution of the CBWTP varies from subbasin to subbasin, but without knowing how it has impacted rivers during the low flow period it is difficult to judge the program's success. Again, the main difficulty arises when insufficient information is presented to permit an assessment of the impact of the water acquisitions on fish habitat quantity and quality," two specific examples are given. However, this is another area in which ongoing monitoring of the program as a whole would be beneficial in understanding program impact.

The response to the ISRP comment "The proposal asserts that CBWTP results have advanced water transactions as a cost-effective tool for restoring flow to imperiled rivers and streams, but to our knowledge the cost effectiveness of the CBWTP approach has not been fully assessed" does not really address the point, which is the lack of systematic assessment of the cost-effectiveness issue. For example, saying "CBWTP QLEs typically pay at or below market rates when acquiring water rights" is different from documenting this statement and also different from a comparison of CBWTP costs to other BPA and NRCS funded projects.

The bottom line with this response seems to have two pieces: coordination and monitoring. There appear to be many areas with which this program is coordinated with others related to stream flow, and the project proposal just needs to do a more comprehensive job in documenting, summarizing and evaluating these. With regard to monitoring, the project needs to do a better job monitoring and evaluating both cost-effectiveness and biological effectiveness program-wide, not just focus on anecdotal examples. The proponents note examples of the types of information provided in various forms but do not evaluate this information.
First Round ISRP Date: 10/18/2010
First Round ISRP Rating: Response Requested
First Round ISRP Comment:
The ISRP is impressed with the Water Transaction Program’s goals and objectives but requests a response from the project proponent in order to address some important questions.

Because of the focus on various tools of water acquisition the proposal should also provide some evaluation of various processes and methods employed by the QLEs, identifying strengths and weaknesses. It should also address the question of cost-effectiveness of various acquisition approaches rather than simply assert cost-effectiveness for the program as a whole.

With a budget of almost $39 million over 4 years, the project is one of the most expensive efforts funded by the Fish and Wildlife Program. To demonstrate that the investments in water rights acquisition are worth it, the proposal should include more details about its record of success. In particular, examples should be presented that demonstrate that increases in fish habitat or various population metrics can be attributable to increased flows resulting from CBWTP acquisitions, and not from other restoration actions taking place in the same watershed. Additionally, more details need to be provided on the potential methods, metrics, and deliverables associated with Objectives 4-6 so that their scientific merits can be assessed.

The project description lacks an evaluative component to justify its large expense. The proposal should contain much more information about accomplishments in terms of outcomes and impacts, rather than its present focus on transactions completed and water acquired. It should discuss the degree of permanence of the present acquisitions and the implications of this time horizon for future expenditures.

1. Purpose, Significance to Regional Programs, Technical Background, and Objectives

The project has six objectives: 1. improve flow rates through identified stream reaches; 2. improve water volumes; 3. improve available habitat; 4. improve egg-to-smolt survival; 5. increase off-channel habitat; and 6. monitor species diversity and abundance. The significance to regional programs is adequately described. There is reason to believe that entry into water conservation programs has the potential to result in large gains in habitat for salmon and resident fishes (as well as some wildlife) in many subbasins, and voluntary incentive-based programs such as CBWTP appear to have had success so far.

The technical background and objectives in the proposal tended to be filled with boilerplate language but without a lot of technical details. Granted, each QLE is using its own approach to monitor the effects of its water acquisitions, but additional details about why certain methods were selected are needed. An example is the use of Instream Flow Incremental Methodology (IFIM) techniques to assess habitat improvements after flow increases. Although IFIM protocols have been in widespread use throughout the west over the last three decades, other methods (including EDT and related habitat models, as well as a variety of channel classification techniques) could be employed to estimate habitat change. Have these been considered in the development of technical approaches to monitoring? It would also be helpful to have more background on need, priorities, water rights transactions and their performance as part of the technical background.

The proposal does a good job of describing its significance to regional and local water conservation programs, but there was little discussion of how the CBWTP is linked to other types of restoration at the subbasin scale. Needed are details of how subbasin analyses and knowledge of limiting factors are incorporated into water acquisition priorities. Are the locations of acquired water rights influenced by other restoration actions in the vicinity so there can be improved coordination (and data sharing)?

The purpose of the CBWTP is to acquire water rights to enhance instream flow to “ecologically significant” Columbia River Basin tributaries, working through various state agencies and NGOs designated as “qualified local entities.” A map and list of tributaries where transactions have taken place is provided. The CBWTP has been operating since 2003. The proposal should put these transactions within the larger context of Columbia River Basin priority needs. What is described is a process of review and evaluation of transactions proposed by individual QLEs, rather than a prioritized strategic framework for how to address the greatest needs.

The program is tied to regional programs involving tributary habitat and flow issues, in particular to RPAs identified in the 2000 and 2008 Biological Opinions. The proposal provides an extensive accounting of programs and plans within the region where in-stream flow is identified as a critical factor, but does this in a general manner rather than tying the CBWTP specifically to these programs. This list establishes the importance of stream flow more than it establishes the significance of the CBWTP to regional programs concerned with improving flows.

2. History: Accomplishments, Results, and Adaptive Management

The history of the Water Transaction Program was adequately described. The proponents did a reasonably thorough job of listing the water transactions that have been implemented in the recent past and describing the relationships that have resulted from the 10 local entities (QLEs) working with interested water users as well as regulatory agencies, tribes, and NGOs.

Although the overall results are presented in terms of acre feet of water conserved through the program (either permanently or temporarily) through water rights agreements, it was difficult to place these water gains in a larger context. In addition to estimating acre feet of water sequestered through the CBWTP, it would be most helpful to estimate what percentages of the river flow during the irrigation season these figures represented. Likely the contribution of the CBWTP varies from subbasin to subbasin, but without knowing how it has impacted rivers during the low flow period it is difficult to judge the program’s success. Again, the main difficulty arises when insufficient information is presented to permit an assessment of the impact of the water acquisitions on fish habitat quantity and quality (e.g., x% increase in base flow, approximate increases in the area of key habitats, effect of the water acquisitions on in-stream temperatures, etc.). Limited results were presented in the proposal, but we hope there are more examples that could be included. We suspect that delays in implementing effectiveness monitoring – both habitat and biological response – have restricted the amount of available data, but the proposal really needed to include a more thorough summary of results to date.

We were pleased to see that the QLEs have adopted the ISRP’s recommendations for prioritizing water transactions (ISRP 2003-1). That was a good example of adaptive management. It would also be useful to know if adoption of the prioritization criteria has resulted in any shifts in QLE approaches to working with landowners.

We note that the CBWTP is holding a workshop among the QLEs to discuss monitoring methods and arrive at general monitoring recommendations, and we strongly recommend carefully examining other basinwide aquatic habitat monitoring programs (e.g., CHaMP/ISEMP, AREMP, EMAP) to determine what elements of those programs can contribute to the water acquisition monitoring efforts undertaken by the QLEs.

The proposal provides a financial history and a list of cost share partners over time. The description of financial history and performance is adequate. The explanation of factors influencing the timing of deliverables is adequate. A summary of the numbers of transactions and amount of water acquired over the life of the program is presented, along with a good description of coordinated efforts with cost-share partners.

One graph shows acre-feet of water acquired during each year of the program. Is the interpretation that the out years of the graph show the time horizon over which these acquisitions will be in effect? If so, the program seems to face a future of declining amount of water acquired, as some existing agreements expire.

A graph indicating the total cost of water over the program’s history is presented. It would be useful to see a calculation of the cost per acre foot of water acquired.

The accomplishments section also describes implementation of conservation easements, work within the regulatory frameworks of the four states, and programmatic changes. The programmatic changes include the expansion of the application of market-based mechanisms to water conservation. The proposal asserts that CBWTP results have “advanced water transactions as a cost-effective tool for restoring flow to imperiled rivers and streams,” but to our knowledge the cost effectiveness of the CBWTP approach has not been fully assessed.

An adequate description is provided of the changes in the program over time to adapt to changing circumstances: mergers of QLEs, QLE prioritization of acquisitions, experimentation with new acquisition tools, implementing related programs, and the development of monitoring protocols in response to recommendations of a 2007 external program review and ISRP reviews that the biological impacts of the acquired water be evaluated. The program has a pretty good history of learning from past experience and adapting approaches on the basis of what has been learned and in response to changing conditions.

The proposal describes responses to several ISRP recommendations. In response to a Council recommendation to lower overhead costs of the projects, the CBWTP refers to a conclusion of the 2007 review that observes the nature of individual transactions between rights-holders and a QLE, and states that transactions costs will always be a part of the program. Also part of that review was a Council-sponsored review of the consultant’s report, in which this perspective is challenged somewhat and a recommendation made to systematically assess the QLE actions and processes to learn general properties of successful and unsuccessful processes.

Since 2002, the program has completed over 240 water right transactions and noted that they have restored over 819 cfs of flow to tributary streams using various water acquisition methods. It is impossible from the data presented to know how much of the flow improvement occurred at the key low flow time of the year (perhaps flow improvement should be summarized differently). In terms of priority localities for this activity, it was noted that stream flow was mentioned in the subbasin plans or other key documents. But, it also mentioned willing landowners and the presence of other activities in the area play an important part in the decision making process. There seems to be an approval process that would tend to eliminate less important activities. The program was independently evaluated in 2007, with a report indicating that in addition to monitoring compliance and flow, that standards be established for habitat monitoring.

3. Project Relationships, Emerging Limiting Factors, and Tailored Questions for Type of Work (Hatchery, RME, Tagging)

It was apparent that the CBWTP targets both resident and anadromous salmonids, depending on location. A little more discussion of the life history stages that would likely benefit from water rights acquisitions would have been helpful (e.g., would the projects be more likely to benefit fall or spring spawners?).

Although discussed under a topic above, the issue of using water acquisitions to address perceived limiting factors in areas where other types of restoration actions are simultaneously taking place suggests that close coordination will be beneficial. What is being done to promote the coordination of water acquisitions with other habitat improvement projects? The proposal addresses this question in general, but some specific examples would help.

The proposal includes a good description of how climate change will affect limiting flows, with specifics of how these anticipated changes will affect the timing and quantity of water in different parts of the Columbia River Basin. It also summarizes QLE approaches to account for these anticipated changes.

4. Deliverables, Work Elements, Metrics, and Methods

More details are needed on the monitoring protocols. The proposal states that the biological effectiveness monitoring methods will be developed by the QLEs, but there should be a statement of the types of methods that project proponents would consider reasonable. Additionally, the QLEs may have to rely on cooperation from ongoing effectiveness monitoring efforts in the area (e.g., the CHaMP/ISEMP project), and how the Water Transactions Program would contribute to the implementation and funding of effectiveness monitoring should be explained in greater detail. Despite having developed protocols for biological monitoring and compliance monitoring in the past year, details of these protocols or how they will be applied to monitoring or data collection are not provided.

The descriptions of methods and deliverables for objectives 4-6 were not sufficiently explanatory, and the language for each objective was virtually identical (and sometimes unrelated to the specific objective itself) suggesting that methods for these three objectives had yet to be selected. More details are needed with respect to the potential methods that could be used to achieve Objective 4, Objective 5, and Objective 6, or, if not currently available, how they would be established (we assume the workshop will do this, but a few more details are needed). Although the QLEs will determine the exact procedures to be used, the proposal should present a suite of potential methods from which the QLEs can pick the most appropriate approach and metrics. This proposal, as it is currently worded, contains insufficient detail for scientific review of these three objectives.

Flow monitoring will be a key component of assessing the habitat effects of water acquisition, and the proposal is reasonably detailed concerning where flow monitoring would be carried out. It would be helpful, however, for the proposal to describe how QA-QC will be accomplished on the flow determinations. This is important because some of the water acquisitions will comprise a relatively small percentage of the river’s discharge and accurate flow measurements will be needed to verify that flow objectives are achieved.

It would also be helpful to describe in more detail where data related to water acquisitions and post-acquisition monitoring would be archived and made publicly available.
Documentation Links:
  • Proponent Response (11/15/2010)

2008 FCRPS BiOp Workgroup Assessment

Assessment Number: 2002-013-01-BIOP-20101105
Project Number: 2002-013-01
Review: RME / AP Category Review
Proposal Number: RMECAT-2002-013-01
Completed Date: None
2008 FCRPS BiOp Workgroup Rating: Supports 2008 FCRPS BiOp
Comments: BiOp Workgroup Comments: No BiOp Workgroup comments

The BiOp RM&E Workgroups made the following determinations regarding the proposal's ability or need to support BiOp Research, Monitoring and Evaluation (RME) RPAs. If you have questions regarding these RPA association conclusions, please contact your BPA COTR and they will help clarify, or they will arrange further discussion with the appropriate RM&E Workgroup Leads. BiOp RPA associations for the proposed work are: ( )
All Questionable RPA Associations ( ) and
All Deleted RPA Associations ( 57.2 57.4)
Proponent Response:
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2002-013-01-NPCC-20090924
Project: 2002-013-01 - Water Entity - CBWTP
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Approved Date: 10/23/2006
Recommendation: Fund
Comments: Sponsor should work to reduce overhead costs.

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2002-013-01-ISRP-20060831
Project: 2002-013-01 - Water Entity - CBWTP
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 8/31/2006
Final Round ISRP Date: None
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified)
Final Round ISRP Comment:
This project will likely result in long-term benefits to focal species. Water withdrawals have been identified as one of the primary sources of habitat loss in the Columbia River Basin, and this project attempts to address the problem directly. Before this review, the ISRP had not reviewed the results of the Water Transactions Program, but had favorably reviewed NFWF's transaction/project selection criteria. In the ISRP's review of the criteria and in the Retrospective Report, the ISRP recommended a review of the transaction program's results. The FY07 review process allowed us to consider some of the questions below:

1. How has CBWTP investments increased the capacity of Qualified Local Entities (QLEs) to engage in water transactions?
2. How have the investments in water transactions affected the quantity of flow and amount and quality of habitat for salmonids?
3. How have the investments in water transactions changed the responses of salmonids?
4. How well has CBWPT offered an effective means for coordinating federal, state and local organizational efforts for increasing instream flows?
5. How have federal partners changed in meeting specific federal mandates for protecting key species of salmonids?
6. How has CBWPT programmatic activities affected the agricultural uses in achieving targeted water flows?

The proposal did a reasonable job of defining the problem and describing the project's history, but the background section did not go into much detail about how the water transaction program's efforts to increase instream flows will actually result in improved survival and productivity. Some references to the beneficial effects of increasing flows on spawning, juvenile rearing, and migration (both smolt and adult) phases of the life cycle would have been helpful in setting the stage.

The ISRP is not requesting a response, but the proposal and continuing project would be improved by addressing the following comments:

The detailed project history section of the proposal begins with a statement of the underlying assumption that water transactions provide a mechanism to increase tributary flows for the benefit of fish and wildlife. A transaction is a voluntary agreement in which water that has previously been diverted is left or released to instream flows. The process by which proposed transactions are reviewed is described. An extensive and very thorough discussion describes the history of the program. For each year from FY 2003 to present, the number of transactions, tools used, and particular issues are described for the overall program and for the individual states. The proposal includes a good interpretive discussion, with interesting and innovative transactions highlighted. However, while the proposal goes into a lot of detail about the agreements that have been reached, it does not always show how much streamflows increased as the result of these agreements. The project history section describes the efforts to establish a flow and biological monitoring program for instream transactions, and summarizes the monitoring work done by eight QLEs. These efforts may help address the ISRP's comments about the biological benefits of this project.

The proposal would also have benefited from including a brief section describing the problem of low tributary flows in the Columbia Basin, recent changes in water law that re-define instream flow as a beneficial use, the existence of programmatic mechanisms to change the purpose of use of existing water rights, and the identification of inadequate stream flow as a key limiting factor for fish in a number of subbasin plans.

It would help to know more about prioritization of projects. The ISRP previously reviewed criteria for review of water acquisition projects. How do QLEs prioritize their submissions for review? The sponsors should provide information about the priorities and review criteria for riparian easement proposals, so QLEs will be fully informed. The project sponsors also leave monitoring to the QLEs. In many cases QLEs do not possess flow gages or the telemetry equipment to send data to a remote server, so real changes resulting from water transactions may be undocumented. This proposal contains an element that would facilitate the installation of stream gages, which is needed.

A primary concern is that the scale of the projects still seems fairly modest in relation to the overall problem. For example, the following statement identifies numerical goals for part of the Columbia Cascade province: "The updated proposed action for the Biological Opinion seeks to secure 12 cfs of flow through water transactions by the end of the 2007 fiscal year and a total 40 cfs by the end of the 2010 fiscal year. For riparian protection, the target is four miles by the end of 2007 and a total of 12 miles by end of 2010. These targets are applicable to the Entiat, Methow, and Wenatchee subbasins, with implementation of conservation measures also focused in the Okanogan subbasin." The targets seem low in relations to the total flow in these subbasins or the total miles of riparian zones.

One additional comment relates to the history of water right acquisition since the project's inception. The graph in the proposal showing water protection over time declines sharply for the first three years of the project and then levels out. Does this mean that new agreements will be increasingly difficult to come by, resulting in diminishing returns per dollar invested in the program? What strategies will be adopted to ensure that new water protection agreements can be sustained over the life of the project? Are some projects in the queue waiting to be finalized?

Also to note, in FY 2005, the CBWTP worked with BPA to establish the Columbia Basin Riparian Conservation Easement Program. It set up Land Qualified Local Entities (LQLEs) to propose easement projects. A technical advisory committee was established to review the projects. Two have been funded and are described.
Documentation Links:

Legal Assessment (In-Lieu)

Assessment Number: 2002-013-01-INLIEU-20090521
Project Number: 2002-013-01
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 10/6/2006
In Lieu Rating: No Problems Exist
Cost Share Rating: None
Comment: Purchasing of instream flow rights in mitigation for FCRPS (BiOp credit).

Capital Assessment

Assessment Number: 2002-013-01-CAPITAL-20090618
Project Number: 2002-013-01
Review: FY07-09 Solicitation Review
Completed Date: 2/27/2007
Capital Rating: Does Not Qualify for Capital Funding
Capital Asset Category: None
Comment: None

Project Relationships: None

Name Role Organization
Molly Whitney (Inactive) Interested Party National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Morgan Snyder (Inactive) Interested Party National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Kacy Markowitz Project Lead National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Amy Mai Interested Party Bonneville Power Administration
Ryan VanderMeulen (Inactive) Interested Party National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Rankin Holmes Technical Contact National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Maura Eagan Moody Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration
Brenda Aguirre Env. Compliance Lead Bonneville Power Administration
Colleen Walters Administrative Contact National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Peter Lofy Supervisor Bonneville Power Administration
Jonathan Birdsong Supervisor National Fish and Wildlife Foundation