Donner und Blitzen River fish screen & passage improvements

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GHD’s team worked to a tight schedule with federal and state agencies to design fish passages and screening facilities which improved the movement of native fish through 20 miles of river in the refuge. All facilities included photovoltaic arrays to provide energy in off-grid locations.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon provides sanctuary to a range of fish and wildlife species. GHD supported the US Fish & Wildlife Service on the Donner und Blitzen River fish passage and screening improvement project. “This project has improved movement of native fish through 20 miles of the Refuge and created opportunities to limit movement of non-native fish,” Malheur Deputy Project Leader Chad Kerges said. “This helps the Refuge to advance its goals of improving conditions for native fish, reducing invasive fish species, and the protection of Refuge water rights”.

Our work included complete design for:

  • Sod House Dam Fish Passage: a 10 pool, pool-and-weir ladder on the east bank with a fixed vertical flat panel screen facility was constructed on the west bank at the diversion
  • Busse Dam Fish Passage: a 14 pool, pool-and-weir ladder constructed on the west bank with two fixed vertical flat panel screen facilities for the two diversions
  • Grain Camp Dam Fish Passage: a vertical flat panel screen facility on the west bank in a vee-configuration, consolidating two diversions into one

All ladders were designed to juvenile criteria and to operate at variable flows between 10 to 25 cubic feet per second. Design of the fish ladders include a sorting facility at the exit and provisions for a fish trap facility to allow for collection sampling and monitoring of multiple fish species in the basin. The design of the new trap was done in consultation with state and federal fisheries agencies. All screens incorporated porosity control, downwell and bypass, new flow control gates, a traveling brush cleaning system, and bypass systems to allow fish to return to the river. The four new screen structures will screen a total of 500 cubic feet per second of diverted water. All facilities included photovoltaic arrays to provide energy to the screening and control systems in these remotely located off-grid locations.

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