Evaluation of mitigation effectiveness at hydropower projects: Fish passage

Publication Date



mitigation, Hydropower, hydroelectric, hydroelectric dams, dams, barriers, mortality, turbine passage, upstream, downstream fish passage, fish passage, protection, monitoring, water quality, recreation, Columbia River

Publication place

Washington, DC


Office of Energy Projects, division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance


Hydroelectric dams can be barriers to upstream-migrating fish and a sourceof mortality from turbine passage to downstream migrants. To mitigate these impacts, manyprojects are required to install upstream and downstream fish passage facilities, as stipulated inthe articles associated with the licenses that are issued by the Federal Energy RegulatoryCommission. The present study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of this mitigation inachieving the goal of fishery resource protection. The evaluation was based on information fromfish passage effectiveness monitoring plans and annual reports which are filed with FERC bylicensees and stored in the eLibrary database. Fish passage is one of several mitigation areas(others include shoreline management, water quality, and recreation) that were reviewed as partof the FERC strategic plan for meeting the intent of the Government Performance and ResultsAct of 1993.The study reviewed 269 projects that had at least one license article related to fish passage andwere licensed or relicensed during a 16-year period from 1987 through 2002. Projects that wereexempted from licensing and those with licenses that were later amended to require fish passagemitigation were not included in this study. Consequently, the projects on the Columbia River, withone exception, were not included in this evaluation because they were licensed before 1987. Thestudy included 157 projects that had only an article reserving authority under Section 18 of theFederal Power Act to prescribe facilities for fish passage at some time in the future. Because theydid not have a specific requirement for fish passage, these 157 projects were excluded fromfurther analysis. The remaining 112 projects, which consisted of 147 developments, constitutedthe database that was used to assess the effectiveness of fish passage mitigation requirements.

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