Thursday March 14, 2024


Hydropower dams provide reliable renewable energy, but they also have a direct impact on the environment, especially fish. Adjusting the amount of water spilling over a dam can help fish successfully navigate dams. But spilling more water means less water is available to produce power.

Determining when and how much water to spill to help fish pass safely through dams while meeting grid reliability needs are critically important questions.

Research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) highlights the complex dynamics around spill and fish passage through dams, and finds that spill is not always the biggest factor in successful fish passage. The research is published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

“We found that fish activity, swimming ability, and time of day all play a role in fish passage, often more so than spill levels alone,” explained PNNL Earth scientist Ryan Harnish.

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