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EPRI releases third report on leading edge blade shapes

EPRI announces availability of Investigation of Hydro-Turbine Leading-Edge Shapes Favorable to Fish Survival, a report on the third year of a four-year research project. This project is designed to better understand fish mortality due to hydroturbine blade strike and to improve the design of blade leading edges to minimize this mortality. The work is sponsored by EPRI and being performed at the Alden Research Laboratory in Holden, Mass.

Phase III efforts, completed in 2006, focused on laboratory testing of a physical facility built during Phase II. (See “EPRI Releases Report on Turbine Leading Edge Shapes,” Hydro Review, October 2006, page 74.) The test facility consists of an enclosed flume 3 feet wide by 3 feet high and 25 feet long. A chain-driven track accelerates the turbine test blades up to speeds of about 30 feet per second before striking tethered, euthanized rainbow trout.

Tests were performed on rainbow trout 4 inches to 10 inches in length, using blade thicknesses of 3/8 inch, 1 inch, 2 inches, 4 inches, and 6 inches. Data was recorded using a ratio of fish length (L) to blade thickness (t). Results were reported for both immediate (one hour) and total (combination of immediate and 96-hour) fish survival.

For all L/t ratios, immediate and total survival were greater than 90 percent at strike speeds up to 16 feet per second. At greater strike speeds, strike survival decreased as L/t increased (i.e., for thinner blades and larger fish). High-speed video recorded during testing indicated this was due in part to the leading edge pressure wave deflecting the fish away from the blade.

EPRI has added a year of research to the program for testing fish injuries at higher blade speeds that are frequently encountered with actual turbines. To accomplish this testing, the test facility is being extended to allow acceleration to higher impact speeds. In addition, the drive mechanism is being reconfigured to support the blade acceleration and deceleration. Testing is scheduled to be completed in 2007, and the final report is to be available by the end of March 2008.

When complete in 2008, results of this research project may be applied in two ways. First, it may support reconfiguration of leading edge blade shapes during turbine retrofits. Second, it may provide information for turbine manufacturers to further improve runner designs to minimize fish injury and mortality.

– For information on access to the Phase III report, contact Doug Dixon, project manager, at (1) 804-642-1025; E-mail: ddixon@epri.com.

BPA funds fish research in Pacific Northwest

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is providing about $25 million per year for hydro-related research activities for fiscal years 2007 through 2009. The research is being conducted by federal, state, and tribal fish managers, universities, and local water and conservation boards. These activities are part of a larger effort carried out through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s fish and wildlife program. The goal is protect and enhance fish and wildlife affected by federally owned hydroelectric projects along the Columbia River system in the Pacific Northwest. BPA markets the electricity generated by these projects.

Much of the work focuses on fish monitoring and tracking. Examples include:

– Pacific Northwest Aquatic Monitoring Partnership-Fish Population Monitoring. This research activity focuses on standardizing research, monitoring, and evaluation protocols, indicators, methods, and analytical processes. The regional monitoring partnership will publish several manuals as a result of this work that will facilitate improved consistency of data collection among the numerous federal, state, and tribal research efforts in the Columbia Basin.

– Monitoring and Evaluating Statistical Support for Life-Cycle Studies. Work involves developing statistical methods for monitoring and evaluating salmonid recovery plans to provide value-added analyses and statistical support on regional fisheries issues. This project includes providing smolt migration timing predictions on the Internet at www.cbr.washington.edu/ dart/dart.html.

– Smolt Monitoring by Federal and Non-Federal Agencies. Researchers will collect daily passage data, such as run timing, fish size and condition, and observations of marks, on fish in the Snake, Columbia, and mid-Columbia rivers. This data will be used to facilitate fish passage management decisions, including Biological Opinion implementation.

– New Marking and Monitoring Techniques. The primary focus is on the development of new and improved passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag technology, including tag, transceiver, and antenna developments for use in large spillways, turbines, and surface bypass routes, as well as monitoring in small and large tributaries.

– PIT Tagging Wild Chinook. Researchers will collect time series information using PIT tags to examine migrational characteristics of wild Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon stocks listed under the Endangered Species Act.

– PIT Tag Data Recovery. BPA is providing funding to continue operation of the PIT tag detection system in the tailrace of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 1,050-MW Bonneville Dam to monitor juvenile outmigrants in the estuary and estimate survival.

Research into possible factors affecting salmon survival and ways to improve management actions to help salmon includes:

– Acoustic Tracking for Survival. Canadian company Kitama Research will construct a large-scale acoustic array off the shelf of the Pacific Coast that will allow researchers to track the ocean movements and survival of Columbia River salmon. Data collected from the array can be used to determine the migration patterns of various stocks of juvenile salmonids and may improve understanding of why some stocks are returning in greater numbers to the Columbia River as adults. BPA is one of several organizations contributing funds to this coast-wide effort.

– Statistical Support for Salmonid Survival Studies. This research will develop measurement tools, study designs, and statistical methods to determine survival rates and survival relationships, as well as provide statistical guidance to Columbia Basin investigators.

– Canada-USA Shelf Salmon Survival Study. This research is intended to determine how the ocean environment and climate affect the production of Columbia River salmon, by sampling juvenile salmon and oceanographic data in an area of critical importance to these fish.

– Evaluation of Delayed Mortality Associated with Passage of Yearling Chinook Salmon Smolts through Snake River Dams. The purpose is to determine if downstream migration through three Snake River dams and reservoirs results in latent mortality in yearling chinook salmon smolts.

– Avian Predation on Juvenile Salmonids in the Lower Columbia River. Research will focus on determining predation rates by waterbirds on juvenile salmonids, evaluating the efficacy of management initiatives to reduce avian predation, and assisting resource managers in the development of plans for long-term management of avian predation. This ongoing project has supported management actions that have reduced predation on juvenile salmonids by as much as 50 percent since the late 1990s.

– For details, contact Bill Maslen, director of BPA’s Fish and Wildlife Division, (1) 503-230-5549; E-mail: wcmaslen@bpa.gov.


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