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Bureau of Reclamation Awards $20,000 For Potential Solutions to Move Fish Downstream Past Tall Dams

Media Contact: Peter Soeth, 303-445-3615,

For Release: May 03, 2017

WASHINGTON - The Bureau of Reclamation selected four submissions to receive prizes in its downstream fish passage at tall dams' prize competition. Briana Connors of Cincinnati, Ohio, won the first prize of $10,000. The remaining three prizes will share $10,000. This prize competition was developed to help migrating juvenile fish over or around tall dams. Moving migrating juvenile fish past tall dams will ensure habitat connectivity that many threatened and endangered fish populations need to survive and reproduce.

Connors’ submission utilized a drag conveyor to pass fish downstream. The system may offer continuous and rapid transport and may manage pressure within the chambers, minimizing the trauma to the fish. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2014 with degrees in Chemical Engineering and now works as a process engineer working on mineral processing systems.

"My proposed solution used solutions I had seen used in food and chemical plant designs for inspiration," Connors said. "Prior to reading the problem statement I was not aware of how much resources went into fish relocation at dams. I assumed this is funded by taxes, so to me, any way we can improve methods would lead to more efficient use of tax dollars."

Receiving the second-place prize is Ted R. Grygar of San Diego, California. He received $4,000 for his idea to use an Archimedean internal helical device to move small fish downstream past high head dams. With a background in physics and mechanical and electrical engineering, Grygar was motivated to enter this prize competition because he could “participate in a field never experienced in my work history."

The third-place prize was awarded to Joseph Rizzi of Benicia, California. He received $3,500 for an idea that uses nets to guide fish to multiple points, and a flexible pipe attached to a buoy to convey the fish through the dam abutment to the river downstream in atmospheric conditions. Rizzi was intrigued by this prize competition in order to “help Reclamation to help the fish. Dams are important and can be made fish friendly, too.”

Kenneth Smith of Colfax, Wisconsin, teaches college courses in manufacturing operations at the University of Wisconsin. He received the fourth-place prize of $2,500 for a system that uses innovative ways of attracting fish to a collection location, particularly the use of cover, and protecting them from predators at that location. “I have long been active with inventing, entrepreneurship and social and environmental stewardship,” Smith said.

Reclamation received 59 ideas from solvers. Though only four ideas were selected, the federal government receives a perpetual, no-cost right to use any of the ideas submitted. Reclamation will now develop a plan to further test, develop and demonstrate the effectiveness of these submitted ideas.

The Bureau of Reclamation collaborated with U.S. Geological Survey, NOAA - National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design and judge this prize competition.

To learn more about Reclamation's Water Prize Competition Center, please visit:

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The Bureau of Reclamation is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior and is the nation's largest wholesale water supplier and second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Our facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation opportunities, and environmental benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR; Facebook @bureau.of.reclamation; LinkedIn @Bureau of Reclamation; Instagram @bureau_of_reclamation; and YouTube @reclamation.