More than half the screens protecting Columbia River salmon from being sucked into irrigation pumps in Washington and Oregon are missing or don't work, according to a recent survey conducted by the two states.


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently inspected 80 screens at irrigation and hydroelectric facilities, and discovered half were either in the wrong location, inadequate, damaged, clogged by debris or missing, reports the Associated Press.


Although pump owners were notified they must comply with screen requirements by the start of the irrigation season in mid-April, only seven responded. In Oregon, divers contracted by the Bonneville Power Administration found 60 percent of the pumps inspected also had missing or inadequate screens.


The problem is not new, says Lt. Laurence A. Kraft of the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division. A 1981 survey uncovered the same problems. Screens are designed to keep salmon smolts, traveling from their spawning grounds to the ocean, from being sucked into pipelines.


* Carol Busch