Developing Adjustable Waterfalls to Evaluate Fish Jumping Performance
* Can Reclamation developed laboratory-based adjustable waterfalls be used to better understand jumping performance of fish and aid in the future development of more efficient fish passage and fish ladder systems?
Need and Benefit
Over the last century, Reclamation has developed a multitude of dams and spillways as a means to accomplish a mission to deliver water to the Western United States in an environmentally sound manner. Low-head dams and spillways can pose a serious in-stream obstacle, if not a permanent barrier to fish, whose only means to navigate such structures is via jumping or leaping. Impassable barriers disrupt historical migration patterns and reduce available habitat for fish, which may ultimately have significant population level effects. As a means to mitigate such effects Reclamation has developed, and will likely continue to develop, fish passage structures and fish ladder systems have been designed and implemented in an attempt to guide fish past insurmountable in-stream barriers.
Critical components to consider when developing fish passage and fish ladder systems are swimming and jumping performance of key species of concern at all impacted life-stages. There is a definite lack of available published literature detailing fish jumping performance, which results in Reclamation engineers and managers relying on trial and error when developing low-head dams and fish ladder systems, and ultimately systems that do not efficiently permit passage of fish past in-stream barriers. Laboratory-based adjustable waterfalls are easy and economic to construct, have been employed successfully for fisheries research (see Kondratieff and Myrick 2005), would provide Reclamation with the ability to quantify jumping performance of critical fish species affected by Reclamation facilities, and could be used to acquire data for future development of more efficient fish passage and fish ladder systems.
The following documents were not reviewed. Statements made in these documents are those of the authors. The findings have not been verified.
Design, Development, and Pilot Testing of a Laboratory-Type Fish Jumping Box (final, PDF,
By Zak Sutphin
Report completed on February 20, 2014
This information was last updated on July 23, 2014
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