Ensuring Water Delivery through Effective Fish Counting

Project ID: 4399
Principal Investigator: Steve Hiebert
Research Topic: Fish Passage and Entrainment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2005 and 2006
Keywords: None

Research Question

* Can light curtain technology be used to effectively count fish that ascend or descend rivers at Reclamation fish passage facilities?

* Can more accurate counts of fish at Reclamation facilities increase the reliability of water delivery, particularly at facilities where anadromous fish are present?

This Science and Technology (S&T) Program research project will develop counter-installation techniques and evaluate fish counters for accuracy, maintenance, and ease of installation. This research will be valuable Reclamation-wide for fisheries biologists, fish passage engineers, hydraulic engineers, facility managers, and river operators.

Need and Benefit

Reclamation's dams, powerplants, irrigation diversions and other facilities produce power, water for irrigation and other important economic commodities. The production of these commodities requires water. The delivery of this water is an important part of Reclamation's mission. Water delivery can affect how fish use and their ability to access necessary habitats for important life stages. Dams and other structures can represent complete or partial barriers to migrations of native fish species, including listed species and economically important fishes such as salmon.

If a $42,000 fish counter can provide information to direct important operational decisions of a multi-million dollar water delivery system, that benefits Reclamation. Although many dams have been built with fish passage in mind, effects of these structures, information about fish behavior and fish use of existing passage systems and information on fish proximate to dams without passage devices is needed. Fish counting at dams with passage structures evaluation and quantification of fish behavior at dams will provide valuable data for fish managers and fish passage designers to effectively optimize existing ladders and channels. In addition, this technology development will provide vital information to build effective new passage ways that reduce effects of these structures on the ecosystem, avoid future listings of species, and ensure water delivery.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 9/19/16