Quantification of Fish Entrainment at Water Diversions to Develop Fish Protection Systems and Maintain Water Deliveries
* How can fish entrainment at Reclamation facilities be determined, and what are the numbers and species of fish losses at these facilities?
* How can this information be used to design and integrate entrainment reduction technologies in order to continue to meet Reclamation's mission of irrigation water and power delivery while protecting the associated fishery resources?
Fish entrainment quantification is necessary to effectively design and apply fish protection techniques (positive barriers, by-pass channels, behavioral barriers, etc.).
Need and Benefit
Fish species, including many species of concern or federally listed species, are present at Reclamation irrigation diversions and power generation facilities throughout the Western United States. These fish are subject to entrainment as these facilities are operated. Fish entrainment is defined in this proposal as: fish being transported along with the flow of water and out of their normal river, lake or reservoir habitat into unnatural or harmful environments. There are many valuable benefits of quantification and subsequent reduction of fish entrainment:
* Quantification defines the problem and provides adequate data to guide decisions and design of necessary entrainment reduction techniques. Many times environmental and fish management agencies know entrainment is occurring, but if numbers of fish entrained is not known, the worst is assumed. Once the problem is adequately defined, Reclamation can work cooperatively with these agencies to address it in the most effective and affordable manner.
* Entrainment left unchecked can result in costly litigation that curtails water delivery and power generation. These legal battles also result in poor public perception of Reclamation's efforts to operate projects in an environmentally conscious manner. Conversly, defining and addresssing environmental concern, such as fish losses, results in positive public perception.
* Entrainment reduction can also enhance Reclamation's ability to deliver water under varying water years by providing protection to the fishery resource.
* Once a fish protection system is installed, the same techniques used to quantify fish entrainment can be used to evaluate and possibly further improve the fish protection technology. This information can then be transferred to other facilities to address entrainment concerns throughout the Western United States.
An additional benefit of fish entrainment studies is efficient species collection with detailed information on migration timing, fish conditions, food habits, life cycle quantification, and the ability to have fish in hand for tagging and other movement information. When shared and/or cooperatively collected with water and fisheries mangers, this information enhances the ability for them to make beneficial and cost effective decisions in managing the resources to improve western waters.
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