Comparing fish screen performance to physical design criteria

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approach velocity, design, design criteria, diversion, fish passage, fish population, fish protection, fish screen, irrigation, mesh, protection, screens, structures, water velocity, wildlife

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Fish screens associated with irrigation diversion structures perform a vital function by protecting rearing and migrating fishes. Irrigation diversions in the western United States were developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s with little regard to how they might affect fish populations. Fish screens were installed on some diversions beginning in the 1930s but were often ineffective. Beginning in the 1980s a 'modern-era' fish screening program was initiated in the Yakima River basin in Washington State. A systematic phased approach was employed, with federal funding, to replace antiquated screens and to install screens where there had not previously been fish protection devices. Also during this time, the federal and state agencies responsible for protecting the fish resources developed regional criteria to guide design of these facilities. These criteria, developed by the National Marine Fisheries Service and used by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, dictated physical metrics such as approach velocity (and mesh size) for fish screen facilities. Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) developed methods for evaluating new fish screen facilities as they came 'on line' to document whether the facilities were designed, constructed, operated, and maintained to be within the fish passage criteria. PNNL uses a combination of water velocity measurements, visual inspection, and underwater videography to determine whether fish screen sites are within the fish protection criteria. This annual evaluation schedule (most sites are evaluated three times/year) is a vital tool to ensure that the large initial capital investment (over $75 million USD) is being operated and maintained to protect fish







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