Water Velocity Measurements on a Vertical Barrier Screen at the Bonneville Dam Second Powerhouse

Fish screens at hydroelectric dams help to protect rearing and migrating fish by preventing them from passing through the turbines and directing them towards the bypass channels by means of a sweeping flow parallel to the screen. However, fish screens may actually be harmful to fish if the fish become impinged on the surface of the screen or become disoriented due to poor flow conditions near the screen. Recent modifications to the vertical barrier screens (VBS) in the gate wells at the Bonneville Dam second powerhouse (B2) were intended to increase the guidance of juvenile salmonids into the juvenile bypass system but have resulted in higher mortality and descaling rates of hatchery subyearling Chinook salmon during the 2008 juvenile salmonid passage season. To investigate the potential cause of the high mortality and descaling rates, an in situ water velocity measurement study was conducted using acoustic Doppler velocimeters in the gate well slots at turbine units 12A and 14A of B2. From the measurements collected, the average approach velocity, sweep velocity, and the root mean square value of the velocity fluctuations were calculated. The approach velocities measured across the face of the VBS were variable and typically less than 0.3 m/s, but fewer than 50% were less than or equal to 0.12 m/s. There was also large variance in sweep velocities across the face of the VBS with most measurements recorded at less than 1.5 m/s. Results of this study revealed that the approach velocities in the gate wells exceeded criteria intended to improve fish passage conditions that were recommended by National Marine Fisheries Service and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The turbulence measured in the gate well may also result in suboptimal fish passage conditions but no established guidelines to contrast those results have been published.
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