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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 24, 2004

Engineers Receive Additional $1.9 Million To Study Salmon

University of Iowa College of Engineering researchers led by Larry J. Weber, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, the college's world-renowned water research center, have received $1.9 million in supplementary funding from Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County, Wash. to study Pacific Northwest salmon.

The funding is in addition to a 2003 three-year, $6.9 million contract extension from the district. Since the current contract began in 1990, UI researches have received a total of some $18 million to study how Pacific Northwest salmon can co-exist with hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River.

Weber, who also serves as Donald E. Bently Faculty Fellow of Engineering and IIHR research engineer, said that the supplementary funds will be used to expand fish modeling studies, with the goal of routing young salmon safely past hydroelectric dams. Currently, many fish fall prey to hydroelectric turbines and high levels of nitrogen injected into the river by water mixing with air as it cascades over the dam and tumbles into the river below.

This latest funding will allow IIHR researchers to complete final research for the design of a production fish passage system at Wanapum Dam. After installation, it is expected that fish survival rate at the dam will exceed 96 percent and meet the passage criteria of various fisheries resource agencies, Weber said. The construction cost of the fish passage facility is expected to be approximately $25 million.

"In so many ways, this project exemplifies the benefits of partnerships between universities and industry to solve some of our nation's most challenging interdisciplinary problems," Weber said.

In addition to Weber, UI researchers working on the project are: Songheng Li, assistant research engineer; Pablo Carrica, associate research engineer; Pete Haug, engineer 2; Troy Lyons, engineer 1; seven graduate students; four undergraduate students; and several UI support staff members, including Doug Hauser, Darian DeJong, Mark Wilson, Brian Miller and Mike Kundert.

Weber, who joined the college's faculty in 1996, earned his bachelor's degree in 1989, master's degree in 1990 and doctorate in 1993, all from the University of Iowa College of Engineering Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research involves the application of environmental hydraulics and fluid mechanics to the restoration of threatened and endangered freshwater mussels and pacific salmon.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu.