The use of a multi-sensory behavioral barrier as a fish deterrent to reduce entrainment at the St. Mary Diversion Dam, Milk River Project, Montana

Project ID: 22008
Principal Investigator: Lauri Teig
Research Topic: Fish Passage and Entrainment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2022 and 2023
Keywords: None

Research Question

Question: Will a multi-sensory fish deterrent system, or components thereof (lights, noise, motion) be effective in reducing fish entrainment in smaller systems, such as the St. Mary Diversion Dam?

Hypothesis: Bull trout and other fish species will avoid sensory stimulus such as lights, noise, and motion, and will choose an alternate migration route, reducing the attraction of canal inflows and likelihood of entrainment.

Problem: Bull Trout, a protected species (threatened) are entrained in the St. Mary Canal, which effectively removes individuals from the population.

Goal: To develop a cost effective behavioral deterrent system that will reduce fish entrainment at the St. Mary Diversion and other Reclamation facilities.

Objectives: Investigate parameters specific to the St. Mary Unit to ensure proper design and effectiveness of behavioral barrier components.

Three areas of concern are identified:
1. The St. Mary Diversion Dam and appurtenant structures
* Each facility is unique in terms of channel geometry, water flow, amount of water diverted, facilities, and appurtenant structures
* Design a multi-sensory behavioral barrier that would not impact the safe and effective operations of the Project (facilities)

2. Bull trout behavior
Design the behavioral barrier system specific to target species (bull trout)
* Designed to meet specific needs - deterrent or attraction
* Designed to repel fish before they become disoriented - to guide fish toward a specific location (escape route)

3. Entrainment Reduction
* Monitoring of results once the behavioral barrier components are in place
* Utilizing PIT array data to extrapolate results.

Need and Benefit

The proposal aligns with the need for an effective solution for federal environmental compliance under the Endangered Species Act, while improving upstream and downstream fish passage at diversion dams. Coordination was made with Jennifer Bountry (Environmental Issues for Water Delivery and Management) and Dale Lentz, Missouri Basin Coordinator.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20