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Concurrent Sessions C: Tracking and Evaluating Passage - Downstream Passage Tracking of Post-Spawning American Shad at The York Haven Hydroelectric Project, Susquehanna River, PA

HDR Engineering, Inc. and its consultant, Normandeau Associates, Inc., conducted an American Shad Radio Telemetry Study in association with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing of the York Haven Hydroelectric Project (Project). Anadromous fish passage is a key issue for relicensing the run-of-river Project, located on the Susquehanna River in southeast Pennsylvania. Efforts to restore anadromous fish populations and construct passage facilities have occurred at all four lower Susquehanna River hydropower dams since the 1980s. In the spring of 2012, two release groups, representing 64 total American shad, were collected at the downstream Conowingo Hydroelectric Station west fish lift. The shad were radio-tagged, transported, and released approximately 15 miles upstream of the Project to monitor their downstream passage. Remote monitoring stations were utilized to detect tagged shad as they migrated downstream through the Project, with continuous monitoring of both release groups occurring between April and August 2012. The monitoring stations were positioned at various locations north of the powerhouse fore bay, in the powerhouse fore bay at the sluice gate, and on the east and west shores of the River downstream of the powerhouse. Five of the 64 tagged shad were not detected passing downstream of the Project after release, resulting in a total of 59 individuals that migrated downstream of the Project. Of these 59 shad, 35.6% passed downstream of the Project within two days of release. The majority of fish released in the first group passed through the Project within 13 days of release, while the majority of fish released in the second group passed through the Project within 10 days of release. The Main Dam spillway was most frequently used by shad to pass downstream, followed by passage through the turbines and sluice gate. Overall, 75% of the 59 adult tagged shad passed downstream of York Haven via preferred (i.e., non-turbine) passage routes and over 80% of shad that passed through the Project were detected further downstream past Haldeman Island. By employing a scientifically sound, agency-negotiated methodology, the American Shad Radio Telemetry Study successfully documented the timing and route of downstream passage of tagged fish. Results of the study were evaluated, incorporated into licensing documents, and reviewed with resource agencies to help resolve fish passage issues during relicensing.