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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 7, 2005

Engineers Receive $190,577 To Study Salmon Survival

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 a $190,577 contract to study how fingerling salmon can safely pass through three hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest.

The project is sponsored and funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District Office, and funded through a contract with Tetra Tech, Inc., a Pasadena, Calif.-based engineering and consulting firm.

Formally known as the "Forebay Computational Fluid Dynamics Modeling to Support Fish Passage at Lower Granite, Ice Harbor, and McNary Dams," it is the latest in a series of projects that have brought a total of about $18 million to the UI since 1990 to study how Pacific Northwest salmon can co-exist with Columbia River hydroelectric dams. This latest work involves the Lower Granite and Ice Harbor Dams on the Snake River and the McNary Dam on the Columbia River.

The purpose of the study is continued research and development of juvenile fish passage systems for downstream migrants, says Weber. He adds that the recent success of fish passage research at Lower Granite Lock and Dam has led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop equivalent fish passage systems at dams further downstream in the migration route -- the Ice Harbor and McNary Lock and Dams.

The overall goal is to move young salmon safely past hydroelectric turbines and away from high levels of nitrogen injected into the river when water mixes with air as it cascades over the dams and tumbles into the river below.

In a related project (funded by Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County, Wash.), IIHR researchers are completing research for the design of the Columbia River Wanapum Dam fish passage system, where the fish survival rate, upon completion, is expected to exceed 96 percent and meet the requirements of various fisheries resource agencies.

Weber's colleagues on the new project are George Constantinescu, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and IIHR research engineer, and Songheng Li, IIHR research engineer.

Weber, who 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, joined the college's faculty in 1996. His research includes the modeling of fish passage facilities, hydraulic structures and natural river reaches.

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