The National Hydropower Association early this month honored seven hydropower organizations, including central Washington’s Grant County Public Utility District and Portland General Electric Company, with Outstanding Stewards of America's Waters Awards in recognition of significant, innovative projects that serve as models for the industry.
“The OSAW awards showcase the hydro industry’s most exciting and creative solutions to fulfilling its responsibilities as stewards of our water resources,” said NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci. “NHA recognized this year’s winners for creating innovative and proven approaches that will raise the entire industry’s performance, as well as fulfilling their regulatory commitments.”
Grant received one of the two awards presented in the Operational Excellence category this year.
Grant County Public Utility District won for its Wanapum Dam Fish Bypass system on the Wanapum Dam on the mid-Columbia River. After years of research, modeling, and testing, the system was developed and it has exceeded new licensing requirements with a 98 percent survival rate for sockeye salmon and a 99 percent survival rate for steelhead.
The system also allowed the project to generate more electricity, without using additional water resources.
“We are proud of the national recognition received for the work on our fish bypass,” said Randy Allred, Grant PUD commission president. “Grant PUD has a longstanding track-record of doing the right thing for fish while balancing increased electric demands from our customers. Our achievements with the Wanapum Fish Bypass demonstrate that commitment.”
The fish bypass, completed in 2008 at a cost of $35 million, is an alternative passage route at Wanapum Dam that provides an opportunity for salmon smolts to bypass the turbines. The research showed how juvenile salmon travel within the water column as they approach the dam. Design and engineering of the bypass provide migrating salmon with the safest possible downstream passage route.
The bypass funnels fish into a 290-foot-long chute that carried the juvenile fish downstream on a flow of 20,000 cubic feet of water per second. Vertical and inclined gates make it possible to set lower flow rates.
To learn more about the system, please visit: http://www.gcpud.org/
Also winning in the Operational Excellence category was Ameren Missouri, which utilized both proven technologies and innovative control techniques to greatly increase generation capability at its Osage Project in Missouri while meeting all new environmental requirements as regards total dissolved gas. For more information on the Osage Project and Ameren Missouri's programs and services at Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks, visit www.AmerenMissouri.com/lake.
Portland General Electric Company won in the Recreational, Environmental, and Historical Enhancement category for the design and implementation of the Pelton Round Butte Selective Water Withdrawal Project and Fish Collection Facility at the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project near Madras, Ore. The structure is unlike any other worldwide.
After 15 years of planning and implementation, More than 100,000 fish passed through the facility during its first year of operation in 2010.
The tower is the key component of a comprehensive, $136 million effort to restore fish runs and improve habitat in the Deschutes River basin. The effort is being led by Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon in collaboration with more than 22 local, state and federal agencies, irrigation districts and environmental advocates.
The fish recovery and habitat restoration program was developed as part of a relicensing agreement signed for the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project in 2004. The hydro project and the tower are operated by Portland General Electric, which co-owns them with the tribes.
“We’re deeply honored by this recognition,” PGE President and CEO Jim Piro said, “but even more so we and our project partners are extremely pleased by the success this effort has had in reintroducing fish runs that had been blocked for decades, while at the same time allowing us to continue generating reliable hydroelectric power for our customers.”
“We are very pleased to be working with our project partners on the tribes’ long-held goal of reestablishing harvestable, sustainable fish populations.” CTWS Secretary Treasurer Jody Calica said.
The facility, called a selective water withdrawal tower, combines fish collection with downstream temperature regulation and power generation at the 465-megawatt hydro project, improving water quality and allowing fish passage around a three-dam complex that had prevented salmon and steelhead migration on the upper Deschutes River for more than 40 years.
The first fish passed through the $115 million tower and related facilities in December 2009.
To learn more about this accomplishment, visit: http://www.portlandgeneral.com/default.aspx.
The project at Round Butte was also honored in in early April by the American Council of Engineering Companies and previously earned national recognition as well from the Edison Electric Institute and the Associated General Contractors of America.
Also winning in the NHA’s Recreational, Environmental, and Historical Enhancement category was Puget Sound Energy for the recovery of Baker River sockeye salmon at the Baker River Hydroelectric Project. Beginning in 1978, Puget Sound Energy embarked on collaborative and innovative efforts to protect the imperiled salmon population at the site. After decades of work, a record seven times the annual average run of sockeye salmon returned in 2010. To learn more about this achievement, please visit: http://www.pse.com/Pages/default.aspx.
Other award winners included Massachusets-based Brookfield Renewable Power, Turlock Irrigation District of central California and South Carolina Gas & Electric Company.
NHA's OSAW selection panel, which includes representatives from across the industry and media interests, determined the OSAW Award winners based on the project or program's initial challenge, innovation, collaboration with stakeholders, and results. The panel judges every project by its own merits.
HA presented the awards April 5 at the association's annual conference in Washington, D.C.
For more details on the 2011 OSAW winners, see www.outstandingwaters.org.