Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project

Home | Integrated Plan | 2010 Basin Study | 2009 Workgroup | IOP | Phase 1 | Phase 2 | Authorization

YRBWEP Phase 1 — Fish Passage and Protective Facilities (Fish Ladders and Fish Screens)

The Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project (YRBWEP) Feasibility Study was authorized in 1979 in recognition of the extreme water shortage problems of the basin. Early in the YRBWEP Study process, fish passage problems were identified as needing immediate early attention.

On December 5, 1980, Congress passed the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act (Public Law 96-501). The Act created the Northwest Power Planning Council (now the Northwest Power and Conservation Council). The Council was charged with the responsibility to prepare a Regional Conservation and Electric Power Plan and to develop a program to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife including related spawning grounds and habitat on the Columbia River and its tributaries.

The Council adopted its Fish and Wildlife Program on November 15, 1982; Section 800 addresses measures for the Yakima River Basin to help mitigate hydroelectric impacts in the basin and provide off-site mitigation to compensate for fish losses caused by hydroelectric project development and operations throughout the Columbia River Basin. The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was designated as a major source of funding for such off-site mitigation measures and was requested to initiate discussions with the appropriate Federal project operators and the Council to determine the most expeditious means for funding and implementing the program.

In addition, Section 109 of The Hoover Power Plant Act of 1984 authorized the Secretary of the Interior to “design, construct, operate, and maintain fish passage facilities within the Yakima River Basin.” Under what has become known as “Phase 1” of YRBWEP, improvements to existing fish passage facilities and installation of new fish ladders and fish screens was begun. Between 1984 and 1990, fish screens and ladders at 16 of the largest existing diversion dams and canals in the basin were completed. Construction was funded by Reclamation, BPA, BIA, State of Washington, and the City of Yakima.

These new facilities began entering service in the spring of 1985 with the completion of the Sunnyside Canal fish screen, right bank fish ladder at Sunnyside Diversion Dam, west branch fish ladder at Wapato Diversion Dam, and the fish ladder at the City of Yakima (Naches-Cowiche) Diversion Dam. Fish screens on the Wapato Canal, Toppenish Creek-Satus Unit Canal, Richland Canal, and Columbia Canal and fish ladders at Prosser Diversion Dam (right bank), Sunnyside Diversion Dam, and Horn Rapids Diversion Dam had all entered service by the spring of 1986. Fish screens on Chandler Canal and Toppenish Creek Diversion, fish ladders on east branch of Wapato Diversion Dam, an adult fish barrier on Roza Powerplant Wasteway, and a major juvenile evaluation facility at Chandler fish screen were completed by the spring of 1987. In order to provide proper maintenance of the new screening facilities, a screen maintenance shop was contructed in 1991 at Reclamation’s Yakima Field Office.

In addition, Section 109 of the Hoover Powerplant Act of August 17, 1984, authorized Reclamation to accept funding from BPA to design and construct fish screens at 37 additional diversion sites beginning in 1992. Also, the WDFW Yakima Screen Shop modified or replaced about eight smaller screens during that period.

These new state-of-the-art facilities have improved the survival rates of both upstream migrating adults and downstream migrating juvenile smolts on their journey to the ocean. Maintenance of these facilities is ongoing.


Pat Monk
(509) 575-5848 x325
(509) 454-5611 FAX

Bureau of Reclamation
Columbia-Cascades Area Office
1917 Marsh Road
Yakima, WA 98901-2058

Last Updated: 6/30/20