Reclamation awards $75,000 for technology to exclude fish from water diversions, intakes

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation has given a total of $75,000 to six winners in a prize competition seeking innovative methods to exclude fish from water diversions and intakes.

A total of 38 potential solutions were received for this competition, which addressed the limitations in current technology to cost-effectively exclude certain fish species and size classes. The prize competition sought ideas for alternatives to fish screens or improvements to existing fish screens that could be applied to river and canal diversions or unscreened diversion pipes.

“We are pleased with the variety of novel solutions spurred by this competition,” said Connie Svoboda, hydraulic engineer and prize competition team lead. “The proposed solutions may have the ability to improve effectiveness and reduce costs compared to conventional methods.”

One of the two top solutions was submitted by Ted Ground of Keller, Texas, and uses a combination of broadband sonic and ultrasonic frequencies and looming light emitting diode (LED) arrays to activate natural fish avoidance and escape behavior. The second of the top placing solutions was submitted by Benjamin Mater of Alden Research Laboratory, and uses a biometric-informed screen shape to minimize debris clogging and entrainment of fish eggs and larvae. These solutions receive $17,500 each.

Four other solutions were also selected to receive prizes:

Edem Tsikata, Ph.D., of Cambridge, Mass., receives $15,000 for the use of cavitation barriers for fish guidance.

Jeremy Martinez of Los Angeles receives $15,000 for an off-river solution of a floating device that separates fish from water using the Coanda effect without the use of a screen.

Timothy Hogan of TWB Environmental Research and Consulting Inc. receives $7,500 for his solution to use air bubble curtains to prevent entrainment of fish eggs and larvae through physical processes.

David Orlebeke of Roy, Utah, receives $2,500 for his solution to use an electromagnetic barrier with directed longitudinal waves as a fish barrier in freshwater and estuary environments.

Reclamation is working on the next stage of the prize competition with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office: a multi-phase competition seeking written concepts that can be developed into a deployable research and testing prototype. This stage is anticipated to launch in January 2020 and will have up to $700,000 in cash prizes and technical support through laboratory vouchers.

Reclamation partnered with DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office, U.S. Geological Survey, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, State of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on this prize competition.

Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the U.S. and the nation’s second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits.

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