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Bulletins & Updates

These updates are brief and current news releases for Bureau of Reclamation end users, stakeholders, and other parties interested in Reclamation's Research and Development Program findings. You can also view updates from 2013, 2012, 2011 or previous fiscal years.

Delta Cross Channel gates in the open position, California.
Using Electric Barriers for Returning Adult Salmonids
Can electric barriers be used to redirect upstream migrating adult salmon back to their natal stream?
"Electric barriers may be an effective alternative to redirect upstream migrating adult salmon if a clear path back to the preferred migration route is provided."
Connie Svoboda Hydraulic Engineer, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-33: Electric Barriers (PDF, 954 kB)
Elevation view of the articulated fish ladder. The hinge in the middle allows the upstream half of the fish ladder to rotate up and down with the changing upstream water surface elevations.
Designing Fish Ladders to Automatically Adjust to Varying Water Surface Levels
Self-regulating articulated fish ladders use a constant flow with varying water surfaces
"A standard design for a fish ladder that automatically adjusts to changing headwater elevations to control flows could help provide fish passage for endangered sucker species and other native fish indigenous to highly regulated streams in the West."
Brent Mefford Hydraulic Engineer, Retired Employee From Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-32: Fish Ladders (PDF, 956 kB)
Cottonwoods along the Green River, Colorado.
Testing Nitrogen Fertilizer to Help Restore Mature Cottonwood Trees
Determining if fertilizing cottonwood trees might help restore lost productivity in dryland riverine ecosystems
"While this study did not show that the availability of nitrogen in the soil increases cottonwood growth, it provides guidance for best management practices."
S. Mark Nelson Research Aquatic Biologist, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-31: Cottonwoods (PDF, 993 kB)
Picture of habitat structure in Middle Fork of the Boise River, Idaho. Initial placement (top) and 1 year later (bottom).
Placing Half Log Structures in Reservoir Drawdown Zones to Help Endangered Fish
Constructing onsite habitat structures in reservoir drawdown zones for endangered fish
"The instillation of fabricated habitat structures in a reservoir's drawdown zone can improve fish habitat at a minimum expense. The methods used in this study would work best in habitats with a well-defined channel and low amounts of sediment."
Dmitri Vidergar Fisheries Biologist, Reclamation's Pacific Northwest Region
Bulletin 2014-30: Half Log Structures (PDF, 960 kB)
A multilog large wood structure placed in the center of the Green River, a tributary of the Colorado River.
Improving Public Safety of Large Wood Installations
Designing and installing safer large wood structures
"Large wood structures are an important part of Reclamation's overall river restoration strategy. It is our responsibility to ensure that they are designed and installed as safely as possible."
Connie Svoboda Hydraulic Engineer, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-29: Large Wood Safety (PDF, 855 kB)
Logjam on the lower Trinity River. Photograph courtesy of the Trinity River Restoration Program.
Modeling How Large Woody Debris Structures Affect Rivers
Modeling river changes from large wood structures and other instream structures
"State-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics modelling could help us understand how large wood structures work and interact in a river environment."
Yong Lai Hydraulic Engineer, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-28: Modeling Large Wood (PDF, 959 kB)
Large wood structure under construction at the Sawmill Rehabilitation Project 
(2009) on the Trinity River, near Lewiston, California.
Large Wood National Manual
Developing a National Manual for Planning, Designing, and Implementing Large Wood Projects
"This manual will provide the common set of guidelines for using wood in restoration efforts. This will serve as a foundation for future planning, design, implementation, and regulatory review to help restore ecosystem forms, processes, and functions."
D.J. Bandrowski Implementation Branch Chief, Reclamation's Mid-Pacific Region
Bulletin 2014-27: Large Wood Manual (PDF, 936 kB)
Collecting data on the Red River Wildlife Management Area, Idaho.
Quickly Determining Pools and Riffles Stability in Gravel-Bed Rivers
Evaluating the use of a rapid assessment tool that could help design sustainable pool-riffle habitat
"These physical measurements can be easily collected in the field and may be used in the monitoring and design of sustainable pool-riffle habitat features in gravel-bed rivers. These study results and guidelines could be applicable to instream habitat restoration projects throughout Reclamation."
Ferron (Jeff) Peterson Habitat Program Manager, Reclamation's Pacific Northwest Region
Bulletin 2014-26-pools: Pools and Riffles (PDF, 973 kB)
Three-dimensional view of the initial geometry of the specific model run, 3xC.
Predicting Erosion in Rivers and Reservoir Settings
Are complex channel processes during dam removal ready to be simulated?
"The determination of a river channel width has been a problem for centuries. Engineers and scientists have had to simulate river hydraulics with a known channel width. This research advances our understanding of how to simulate streambank erosion and channel width changes over time."
Tim Randle, Manager, Sedimentation and River Hydraulics Group, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-25-erosion: Predicting Erosion (PDF, 919 kB)
Graham Matthews & Associates personnel using classic methods to measure bed load for calibration.
Looking at Bed Load 24 Hours a Day
Using acoustics to continuously measure coarse bed load movement in a river
"The installation and operation of the bed load impact sensors on the Elwha River near Port Angeles, Washington, are a cutting edge achievement in the continuous monitoring of gravel transport. This installation is the first of its kind in North America and Reclamation should be proud."
Tim Randle, Manager, Sedimentation and River Hydraulics Group, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-24-bed-load: Bed Load (PDF, 917 kB)
Data lifecycle.
Managing Datasets for Monitoring, Evaluating, and Decisionmaking
Improving data stewardship processes to meet decisionmaker needs, ensure data quality, and facilitate data sharing
"Reclamation makes critical decisions based upon the data the agency collects and manages. Data are, therefore, valuable assets. Good data management is essential to ensure the quality, currency, and integrity of these information assets."
Curt Brown, Outgoing Chief of Research, Research and Development Office
Bulletin 2014-23: Managing Datasets (PDF, 926 kB)
Drillers and the rig obtaining core samples.
Understanding How Recharge Cycles and Dissolved Nitrate Affect Selenium
Using geochemical modeling and laboratory testing to track selenium and salinity
"These research results will provide important tools to assist in our understanding of selenium mobilization leading to more efficient, targeted approaches to control selenium loading in the basin."
Brent Uilenberg Manager, Technical Services Division, Reclamation's Upper Colorado Region
Bulletin 2014-22: Nitrates (PDF, 948 kB)
Lucky Peak Dam and Reservoir, Idaho (a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility operated as a system with Reclamation�s upstream Arrowrock Dam and Reservoir).
Improving Water Management With a State-of-the-Art Snow Model
A physically based, high resolution snow model for enhanced streamflow predictions in a changing environment
"We have already been able to use model results to support real-time operations for the Boise River Basin. The graphics and numerical products depicting distribution and amount of available snowmelt water were very useful in confirming our suspicions that runoff in both 2013 and 2014 would be less than forecasted, and less than what Snotel data alone would indicate."
Mary Mellema Hydrologist, Reclamation's Pacific Northwest Region
Bulletin 2014-21: Snow Model (PDF, 1,021 kB)
Map of basins covered, along with seven case study watersheds:
1�Animas River, Durango, CO;
2�Dolores River, Cisco, UT; 
3�Green River, Green River, UT;  4�Missouri River, Toston, MT; 
5�Sacramento River, Red Bluff, CA; 6�Salt River, Chrysotile, AZ; 
7�Snake River, Heise, ID.
Choosing the Right Meteorological Dataset for Hydrologic Simulations
How meteorological datasets affect model simulations and portrayal of climate sensitivity Title
"This work supports previous findings, demonstrating that we need to consider many facets of datasets and ways to analyze them, as all of these factors play a role in how climate change impacts are portrayed in long-term natural resources planning studies."
Marketa Elsner Hydrologic Civil Engineer, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-20: Datasets (PDF, 943 kB)
Raven RQ-11A launch at the Aldwell Reservoir on the Elwha River, Washington.
Using Unmanned Aerial Systems to Monitor Sediment Flow
Collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey to test unmanned aerial systems for mapping sediment flow at a dam removal site
"Unmanned aerial systems hold promise for making it possible to conduct frequent missions to gather high resolution imagery over small areas."
Douglas Clark Physical Scientist, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-19: UAS (PDF, 907 kB)
Sampling aquatic invertebrates in a Sierra Nevada (California and Nevada) stream.
Measuring Biological Effects of Altered Flows
Understanding how flow and water temperature relate to stream health
"The nation's waterways are called upon to serve many purposes and populations. Each use adds physical and biological stress to the river that the ecosystem must bear. Managing our part of each river's course is key to Reclamation's mission. Techniques like those in this study are useful for indicating the status and trend of waterways, based on the lowest level biologic building blocks. If the bugs, water temperature, habitats, and other basic components are prospering, theory says that the conditions for sustaining or recovering higher level ecosystem components are positive"
Rod Wittler Mid-Pacific Region Science Liaison, Research and Development Office
Bulletin 2014-18: Altered Flows (PDF, 928 kB)
Palisades Dam, Idaho
Assessing the Ecological Health of Reclamation's Reservoirs
Using physical, chemical, and biological parameters to assess general ecological conditions for Reclamation reservoirs within a region
"Developing a web-based tool for tracking the ecological health of a reservoir could be a valuable tool for the general characterization of aquatic ecosystems and making comparisons among Reclamation's reservoirs."
Dmitri Vidergar, Fisheries Biologist, Reclamation's Pacific Northwest Region
Bulletin 2014-17: Reservoir Health (PDF, 1.1 MB)
Photo with caption: Tagline and Rio Grande Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) at a section upstream from the HK turbine. Canal velocities were measured at the same cross-sections as water surface elevations with and without the HK device operating for comparison.
Hydrokinetic Demonstration Results to Date and Path Forward
Can hydrokinetic projects work in canals while still maintaining efficient water and power deliveries?
"A well-developed numerical model will be a useful tool for both private developers and water system owners to help determine if and where a hydrokinetic device could be deployed without impacting existing water delivery operation, before any installations are made."
Josh Mortensen Hydraulic Engineer, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-16: Hydrokinetic (PDF, 315 kB)
Photo with caption: John W. Keys III Pump-Generating Plant, Grand Coulee Dam, Columbia Basin Project, Washington.
How Much Does it Cost to Start/Stop a Hydrogenerator?
Determining start/stop costs for hydropower generators to support integrating renewable power into the grid
"Reclamation is being called upon more frequently to start and stop units to support grid reliability, but the tools and methods available to understand the costs of these start/stops have been lacking. The development of this cost model will provide great value to Reclamation by delivering more reliable start/stop costs through a more user-friendly process."
Mike Pulskamp Renewable Energy Program Manager, Reclamation's Power Resources Office
Bulletin 2014-15: Start/Stop Costs (PDF, 261 kB)
Photo with caption: Typical lntelligent Compaction equipment, highlighting
(a)	instrumented roller with vibration sensors and GPS,
(b)	onboard personal computer, and (c) roller-measured data map.
Detecting Cavitation to Protect and Maintain Hydraulic Turbines
Detecting, monitoring, and preventing cavitation damage at Reclamation's powerplants
"Besides predicting and reducing the damaging effects of cavitation, this research could reduce the hazards employees are exposed to during cavitation repairs. Cavitation is very damaging and requires extensive corrective maintenance to repair. Any steps that can be taken to reduce cavitation would be beneficial."
Russell Anderson, Reliability Program Analyst, Reclamation's Power Resources Office
Bulletin 2014-14: Cavitation (PDF, 246 kB)
Photo with caption: Hydroelectric turbine at Flatiron Powerplant. Photograph courtesy of John Germann.
Catching Problems Early: Predicting Shear Pin Failures With Acoustic Emission Sensing and Analysis
Monitoring turbine linkage shear pins and detecting shear pin failures at Reclamation's powerplants
"The ability to predict some shear pin failures would be advantageous. Replacing shear pins would no longer be a "hurry-up-and-react" situation resulting in forced outages. Instead, shear pins could be replaced during planned outages. While this process may not predict all failures, even finding one or two could save millions of dollars in damaged equipment."
Russell Anderson, Reliability Program Analyst, Reclamation's Power Resources Office
Bulletin 2014-13: Shear Pins (PDF, 331 kB)
Photo with caption: Jim DeHaan of Reclamation�s 
TSC installing and configuring the machine condition monitoring system at Grand Coulee Powerplant, Washington.
Keeping Track of the Generator's Condition
Industry's first open source hydrogenerator condition monitoring software package
"This open-source software code works with a wide variety of data acquisition equipment including off-the-shelf data acquisition systems, specialized monitoring systems, and other computer systems. Hydrogenerator condition monitoring saves time and money, while improving the reliability of hydropower."
Nathan Myers Manager, Hydropower Diagnostics and SCADA Group, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-12: Machine Condition Monitoring (PDF, 217 kB)
Photo with caption: All-in-one hardware design with calculated voltages.
Signal to Noise: Analyzing Generator Performance and Reliability
Adapting signal processing techniques to analyze generator and controller structures, operating parameters, and performance.
"This research is helping to provide Reclamation with cutting edge tools used for generator control system testing and generator plant model generation/validation."
Kyle W. Clair Electrical Engineer, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-11: Analyzing Signals (PDF, 241 kB)
Photo with caption: Engineer performing model validation testing.
Validating and Improving Models for Power Systems
Using online "disturbance" data to help improve the accuracy of Reclamation's power system models
"This research is helping Reclamation become more efficient in obtaining higher quality data and validating models to save a significant amount of money and resources."
James Zeiger Manager, Power System Analysis and Control Group, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-10: Validating Powerplant Models (PDF, 427 kB)
Photo with caption: Concrete anchor bolt while holding the OSHA weight limit (5,000-lb static load).
Testing and Verifying Rope Access Anchors
Making sure concrete anchor bolts perform safely for rope access technicians
"This research into life safety anchors helps Reclamation continue to develop safe practices and protocols for rope access maintenance and inspection of inaccessible features on Reclamation structures."
Shaun Reed Mechanical Engineer, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-09: Anchor Bolts (PDF, 283 kB)
Photo with caption: Panel installation at the Roza Hydro-Electric Powerplant
Making Reclamation Powerplants a Quieter Place
Reducing noise in Reclamation's powerplants by implementing advanced engineering controls
"This Voodoo noise control stuff really works!"
Bob Hotze Green Springs Powerplant Foreman, Reclamation's Pacific Northwest Region
Bulletin 2014-08: Noise Control (PDF, 250 kB)
Photo with caption: Workers working in high power transformer lines.
Safe and Grounded
Ensuring deenergized equipment is adequately grounded while maintenance work is being performed
"The primary purpose of personal protective grounding is to provide adequate protection against electric shock causing death or injury to personnel while working on deenergized lines or equipment. This is accomplished by limiting exposure voltages at the worksite to a safe value if the line or equipment is accidentally energized."
Phil Atwater Electrical Engineer, retired Reclamation employee
Bulletin 2014-07: Personal Protective Grounding (PDF, 288 kB)
Photo with caption: Typical lntelligent Compaction equipment, highlighting
(a)	instrumented roller with vibration sensors and GPS,
(b)	onboard personal computer, and (c) roller-measured data map.
Using Intelligent Compaction for Better Earthwork Construction Control
Real-time analysis of compactor drum vibrations and roller position to document compaction
"Reclamation is posed to greatly benefit from Intelligent Compaction as it provides better coverage, better results, and better documentation than traditional spot-check methods."
Todd Hill, Safety of Dams Project Manager Reclamation's Mid-Pacific Region
Bulletin 2014-06: Intelligent Compaction (PDF, 253 kB)
Photo with caption: -Saw-toothed  edge rack bars.
Affordable Self-Cleaning Trashrack
Irrigation districts can now build their own self-cleaning, solar- powered trashrack
"After seeing this device installed, I wondered how it worked. Now that I have seen it operate during a cleaning cycle, it is really a simple system that works well."
Herman Neiman, Ditchrider for the Tetsel Ditch Company
Bulletin 2014-05: Affordable Trashrack (PDF, 265 kB)
Photo with caption: Silicone product that prevents mussel attachment. Photograph taken at Parker Dam field test site in Arizona/ California. During the semi-annual evaluation.
Understanding How Mussels Attach to Surfaces
Molecular-level insight to develop durable coatings that prevent mussel attachment
"Revealing the mystery of the mussels' underwater adhesion can be the key to new coatings, materials, or technologies that may signiicantly reduce or prevent the rate of attachment, which is needed to sustain the reliability of Reclamation operations. "
Bobbi Jo Merten, Chemist, Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 204-04: Mussel Adhesion (PDF, 490 kB)
Field data that shows surface and groundwater.
Determining How Runoff and Temperature Changes Are Linked to Fish Habitat
Evaluating climate-induced runoff and temperature changes on stream habitat metrics for endangered or threatened fish
"The models will help Reclamation and its partners analyze how future climate may affect river rehabilitation projects to improve conditions for listed salmonids with consideration for habitat response to climate change."
Jennifer Bountry, Hydraulic Engineer Reclamation�s Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-03: Fish Habitat (PDF, 421 kB)
Photo with caption: Researchers: David Gaueman, graduate student Omid Arabnia, and San Francisco State University Professor Leonard Sklar.
Adaption Rates of Bed Load Gravel With Riverflows
Determining how the rate of gravel movement along the riverbeds adapts to changing flow conditions
"Understanding how gravel moves along a riverbed and how riverflows influence that movement is critical to managing a gravel river such as the Trinity River. "
Robin Schrock, Trinity River Restoration Division Program Manager 20 Reclamation's Mid-Pacific Region
Bulletin 2014-02: Bed Load Adaptation (PDF, 229 kB)
Photo with caption: 
Mapping the riverbed: bathymetric output points show the riverflow with a continuous surface
model constructed from predictive output points.
Developing Automated Methods to Improve Modeling for River Channels and Features
Getting a more accurate picture of our underwater surfaces
"The new GIS bathymetric tool is being used by the Sedimentation and River Hydraulics Group within Reclamation's Technical Service Center to make better surface models for 2-D hydraulic modeling efforts. It gives us more accurate representation of the channel and provides a new window onto riverbeds. "
Jennifer Bountry, Hydraulic Engineer Reclamation's Technical Service Center
Bulletin 2014-01: Mapping Riverbeds (PDF, 341 kB)

This information was last updated on May 21, 2015
Contact the Research and Development Office with questions or comments about this page