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Shad and eel research under way in Santee River Basin

Studies of American eel elver abundance and of restoration of American shad in the Santee River Basin in North Carolina and South Carolina are under way.

This work is being performed under the Santee River Basin Accord, which was reached in 2008. The five parties to this accord are: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, South Carolina Electric and Gas, and Duke Energy.

The accord establishes a ten-year plan that includes restoration goals and fish passage provisions for diadromous fish (American shad, blueback herring, and American eels) in the Santee River Basin, which includes the Catawba-Wateree River sub-basin. The accord focuses restoration on the Broad River sub-basin, where the agencies think habitat is most suitable for American shad.

The accord work plan has five main provisions:

– Stocking of American shad fry to "jump-start" returning shad populations;

– Construction of a trapping/sorting/hauling facility at the 56-MW Wateree development to service the upstream spawning habitat for American shad and blueback herring, to be built by 2018;

– Evaluating the need for construction of American eel fishways at each of the 13 Catawba-Wateree hydro developments in sequential order as eels progress upstream;

– Monitoring and research on diadromous fish movement patterns; and

– Sturgeon research.

Work to date primarily has been directed toward restoring American shad, says Hugh Barwick, fisheries biologist with Duke Energy. This has been accomplished by stocking hatchery-produced larvae in various areas within the basin in 2008 and 2009, then evaluating survival of these stockings at several downstream locations in the summer of 2009. In 2009, the movement of adult American shad through the basin also was monitored, using sonic tagging. Studies of American eel elver abundance are scheduled to begin in late 2009 and extend through 2011, he says.

Hydro projects selected for negotiation of awards

Water power projects at companies across the U.S. will receive up to $14.6 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). DOE said it will award funds to 22 advanced water power projects to improve the viability and performance of hydrokinetic technology and conventional hydropower plants.

The projects selected for the negotiation of awards include research and development activities at the following companies:

 

Full details on these projects are available under the Regulation & Policy tab at www.hydroworld.com. Under the heading Government & Policy News, click on the story entitled, "Water power projects to receive $14.6 million from DOE."

Reclamation releases results of climate change study

The attitude of a decision-maker toward risk (risk averse vs. risk neutral) motivates different planning pathways with regard to the effects of climate change on hydro facilities. This is one key finding of a research project undertaken by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, says Levi D. Brekke, hydraulic engineer with Reclamation's Technical Service Center.

This research was performed with the California Department of Water Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, Santa Clara University, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The goal of this research was to explore how a risk-based framework might be used to illustrate the implications of climate change for reservoir operations, Brekke says. The research was performed in two phases. The first phase was designed to provide relative scenario probabilities for a risk analysis and focused on developing a rationale method for weighting climate projection scenarios. The second phase involved a risk analysis demonstration for California's Central Valley Project and State Water Project systems.

Results of the two phases are:

– The climate model skill analysis had little effect on characterizing relative projection-scenario probabilities, in spite of the belief that a better set of models should produce a more credible (less uncertain) set of future projections. For this study, other factors drove projection uncertainty, such as emissions scenarios and initial conditions. Researchers assessed the relative skill of 17 current climate models over northern California, then used results to reduce these to a "better half" set of nine models. Assessing projection uncertainty for both the full set of 17 models and the set of nine models revealed that the uncertainty aspects did not differ significantly. This means that specific projection-scenario probabilities (and weights for the risk analysis to be performed) also did not differ significantly.

– The risk analysis demonstration illustrated how assessed risk could motivate different planning pathways depending on the decision-maker's attitude toward risk. The analysis also illustrated that assumptions other than future climate may be influential on the portrayed risk and decision responses. This was illustrated by repeating the risk analysis under various analytical designs, differing by whether to assume climate change influences flood-control constraints on water supply operations or whether to weight climate change scenarios based on projection uncertainty information from the set of 17 climate models considered in the first phase.

Brekke says results from the first phase support simplified scoping. Results from the second phase provide a framework for applying risk analysis principles to the subject of climate change implications for water resources and illustrate that more effort might be spent on revealing risk sensitivity to a broader set of analytical design choices.

National research laboratories receive $11 million for research

The Obama administration is awarding up to $11 million to national research laboratories for the development of advanced water power technologies.

The U.S. Department of Energy will provide funding to the following laboratories for up to three years:

– National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colo., for the design and testing of marine and hydrokinetic devices;

– Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., to increase the reliability and cost-effectiveness of marine and hydrokinetic devices;

– Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sequim, Wash., to identify, analyze, and predict environmental effects of marine and hydrokinetic energy production;

– Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., to quantify the magnitude of environmental changes caused by marine and hydrokinetic technologies;

– Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill., to develop and demonstrate models for optimizing the efficiency and environmental performance of hydropower plants; and

– Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., to evaluate fish-friendly turbine designs and measure greenhouse gas emissions in reservoirs across the country.

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