PCL Construction – Salmon Hatchery

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CCT) are implementing salmon and steelhead enhancement projects to mitigate the effects of hydropower development on fish populations in the Okanogan and Columbia rivers of Washington. The projects will provide wide-ranging ecological, social and economic benefits within those river basins.

“Although development of the Columbia river hydro system has brought multiple benefits to the Northwest, it has come at a cost to fish and wildlife, particularly the region’s iconic salmon,” concedes Linda Hermeston, fish and wildlife project manager. As a result, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is helping to fund and manage what she calls the largest fish and wildlife program in the world.

One of these projects, the $43 million Chief Joseph Hatchery Program (CJHP), will establish a new salmon hatchery at Chief Joseph Dam and a series of juvenile fish acclimation facilities along the Okanogan River.

“This is truly an unprecedented joint effort among the Colville Tribes, BPA and Grant PUD,” Colville Business Council Chairman Michael Finley said. “For thousands of years, our people depended on salmon not simply as a source of nutritious food, but as essential to our culture and traditions. This magnificent fish is necessary to many of our most important ceremonies, key to both our physical and spiritual strength. Ever since salmon runs were slowed or stopped altogether by dams on the Columbia, tribal leaders have worked to bring the Chinook back. Finally, that goal will be realized.”

The program will achieve multiple goals, including: to meet the federal government’s trust obligations to the CCT; to provide increased subsistence and recreational fishing opportunities; and to restore populations of naturally spawning summer/fall and spring Chinook to their historical habitats in the Okanogan Basin. The hatchery will have a goal of producing 900,000 early summer/fall Chinook, 1.1 million later summer/fall Chinook and 900,000 spring Chinook.

PCL Construction Services Inc. is building the Chief Joseph Salmon Hatchery, and BPA is the project owner during construction. However, the facilities will be turned over to the CCT when they are completed.

PCL has been partnering and working closely with the tribe during construction. Other key partners in the construction include Pacific Pile & Marine.

High-quality Water

The site of the new Chief Joseph Hatchery, on the bank of the Columbia River just below Chief Joseph Dam near Bridgeport, Wash., offers the high-quality water needed for fish production. During the winter and spring, up to 55 cubic feet per second of cold river water from Rufus Woods Lake will be the primary water source.

As the river water temperatures rise in late spring, the water supply will be transitioned to groundwater sources. The new hatchery will include water supply, degassing and filtration systems, incubation rooms, fry start tanks, juvenile rearing tanks and ponds, adult holding and spawning facilities, staff housing and administrative and support facilities.

New acclimation ponds were constructed at two sites, Omak and Riverside, 32 and 41 miles up the Okanogan River, respectively, from its confluence with the Columbia River. Improvements included 55,000-cubic-foot ponds, 15-cubic-feet-per-second river water intakes and pump stations, degassing units, well water deicing systems, emergency power, and monitoring and alarm systems.

The project is being implemented under the three-step planning and design process required by the Northwest Power and Conser­vation Council for major aquaculture projects in the Columbia River Basin. Step 1 (master planning) was completed in May 2004. Step 2 (preliminary design) was completed in November 2007. Step 3 (final design) was completed in 2009. Construction began in early 2010 and is scheduled for completion late in 2012.

Implementation funding is being provided primarily by the BPA – a federal nonprofit agency that is part of the U.S. Department of Energy – with some cost-sharing from Grant, Chelan and Douglas public utility districts (PUD). Under this cost-sharing agreement, the Grant PUD will fund 18.3 percent or approximately $10 million of the total project planning and construction for the hatchery.

Importance of Understanding

A major function of phase 2 has been focused on site work and underground pipelines, along with getting materials and equipment detailed and fabricated for the entire project. Over two-and-a-half miles of groundwater pipeline have been placed and successfully tested. This pipeline will carry up to 18,000 gallons of water per minute from the well field to the hatchery. Additionally, several thousand feet of underground pipelines – up to 42 inches in diameter – have been placed on the hatchery site.

Work at the face of the dam and the pipeline through the dam’s irrigation port is scheduled to start soon. Work on the relief tunnel water pump station has been deferred until the capacity of the well field is determined.

Site restoration is underway on pipeline corridors, with seeding of disturbed areas and repaving of roadways and pedestrian trails continuing. The Colville Confederated Tribes, U.S. Corps of Engineers, state parks and the contractor are collaborating to ensure all areas are restored to pre-construction conditions.

In addition to underground utilities and water pipelines, good progress is being made on the well pump stations and several hatchery site facilities. Much of the structure is in place for the headbox, which receives the incoming water and sends it along to incubators, starts tanks, raceways and rearing ponds before exiting via the fish ladder. The base slabs and portions of the walls have been cast for the concrete raceways.

Construction of the hatchery building also is underway. Approximately 40 tribal members are working on-site in various positions.

Hermeston emphasizes the necessity of understanding all the entities being impacted by this project’s construction. “Learn their sensitivities and cultures,” she recommends. “This is especially true when working with multiple state, federal, local and tribal entities, who may have competing interests. Always reach for understanding and promote a team atmosphere. After almost 10 years of planning, the sight of pipe-laying, concrete being poured, heavy equipment humming and people working brings tears of joy to my eyes.”

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