Columbia River Research Projects
Since its inception, the Center for Lakes and Reservoirs has been involved in Aquatic Nuisance Species Research on the Columbia River. Portland State University, located just minutes from the Columbia, is well situated to tackle research issues that involve this impressive watershed.
The Columbia River - An Overview
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest and the second largest in the United States (in terms of volume discharged). Its drainage basin covers 671,000 km2 in seven states and one Canadian province. Tidal influence of the Pacific Ocean is evident 234 km upriver to Bonneville Dam, the lowest of many impoundments on the river.
The volume of water discharged by the Columbia River varies seasonally according to runoff, snowmelt, and hydropower demands. Mean annual discharge is estimated to be 7,500 m3/s, but may range from lows of 2,000-3,000 m3/s to highs of 15,000 m3/s. Naturally occurring maximum flows on the river occur in May, June and July as a result of snowmelt in the headwater regions. Minimum flows occur from September to March with periodic peaks due to heavy winter rains. The discharge during May-June has been reduced by more than 50 percent since impoundment for water storage, hydropower generation, and irrigation diversion in the middle and upper basin
For thousands of years the Columbia River has been central to the existence and cultures of numerous Native American tribes. Lewis and Clark's exploration of the Columbia River in the early 1800s ushered in two centuries of transformation. In 1825, the British Hudson's Bay Company established a post at Fort Vancouver. With the arrival of the first European American settlers in the 1840s, who reached the lower Columbia and Willamette river valleys via the Oregon Trail, the shape and character of Columbia River began to change. Like many other bays and estuaries along the West Coast, the lower Columbia River became a busy port, with ships arriving daily bearing supplies and immigrants, and leaving with timber, furs and fish. Since then, the population of the lower Columbia River basin has continued to grow, accompanied by increased demands on the river.
The Columbia River Aquatic Nuisance Species Initiative (CRANSI) was formed
to address the issues of nonindigenous species in the Columbia River. CRANSI
is a joint effort of the Ports of Portland and Astoria, and Senator Ron
Wyden. CRANSI was formed in recognition of the need for a comprehensive
approach to nonindigenous species in the lower Columbia River and an examination
of how shipping traffic could transport nonindigenous species throughout
the Columbia River Basin.
The Lower Columbia River Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Survey (LCRANS)
was conducted to provide comprehensive information about the nonnative
species present in the lower Columbia River. A comprehensive list of nonnative
species distribution is the first step to understanding invasions, assessing
impacts, and developing effective management actions. This two-year investigation
provides a baseline for evaluating the rate of species introductions to
the river that will allow assessment of the efficacy of ballast water management
regulations and contribute important new information to ongoing regional
aquatic nonindigenous species (ANS) studies. Despite the considerable volume
of shipping received by the five major freshwater and brackish ports on
the lower Columbia River) it had not been previously surveyed explicitly
for nonnative species.
The objective of the Middle Columbia Aquatic Non-indigenous Species Survey (MCRANS) was to provide a comprehensive survey and analysis of all ANS present in the middle portion of the river system, an area delineated by Bonneville Dam (RKM 235) to Priest Rapids Dam (RKM 639) along the Columbia River and from the mouth of the Snake River to the pool formed by the lower Granite Dam (RKM 224) for a total of 628 river kilometers. Basic information on species presence is necessary for ecosystem management. A comprehensive list of nonnative species distribution is the first step to understanding invasions, assessing impacts, and developing effective management actions in the middle Columbia River.