Nation's Largest Horizontal Fish Screen at Derby Dam Celebrates Completion with Ribbon-Cutting

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This fall, construction of the nation’s largest horizontal fish screen was completed at Derby Dam,  helping the Bureau of Reclamation (BUREC) fulfill its mission to provide reliable water in an environmentally sound manner. This $34 million project restores watershed connectivity, supports fish movement along the Truckee River, and promotes the recovery of the federally threatened Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.

After a 10-year effort, with cooperation between farmers, ranchers, tribes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and local government agencies, the project was constructed in just over one year. This is now the most recent modern projects for BUREC.

“We’re celebrating the most innovative of improvements we’ve made with the completion of the largest horizontal fish screen in Reclamation’s history,” said Brenda Burman, Commissioner of BUREC.

BUREC entered into a cooperative agreement with Farmers Conservation Alliance (FCA) to design, construct, and commission the horizontal fish screen. One of the biggest benefits of the fish screen is its impact on fish habitat. The goal is to allow the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout to move up and down the Truckee River to its historic spawning grounds for the first time since 1905. The fish screen allows fish to safely pass around Derby Dam, accessing their historic habitat along much of the Truckee River and eventually to Pyramid Lake.

“This Derby Dam project is so essential, it’s going to allow for the first time in 100 years for the Lahontan Trout to move from Pyramid Lake to their natural spawning grounds and back again,” said Pete Souza, Regional Director for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This project is significant for conservation and the re-introduction of a fish species that had thought to be extinct,” added Vincent Autier who served as the McMillen Jacobs’ project manager, ensuring that the design team would provide a high-quality product in a short time frame.

Vincent played a pivotal role in early design discussions and throughout the construction process. In the following video link  he discusses how his role and interest in the success of the Derby Dam Fish Screen went far beyond just the day-to-day management of the design.

McMillen Jacobs advanced the 30% preliminary design drawings to 100% construction drawings and provided engineering support during construction. Our scope included hydraulic analysis, geotechnical investigations, structural, mechanical, and survey.

An important component of the fish screen structure was the design and installation of the engineered log jam (ELJ) and plunge pool in the Truckee River. The ELJ is a permeable flow deflection structure made of wooden logs that projects out from the streambank and is used to stabilize streambanks and improve aquatic habitat. Wood is an important fish habitat component in most river systems. The ELJ will help to induce scour and ensure proper depth of the plunge pool, provide cover for fish from predators, and protect the pipe outlets from debris.

In the video link  Civil Engineer Kevin Jensen provides an in-depth look into the design of the ELJ system and McMillen Jacobs’ role in the project

To watch the Derby Dam Ribbon Cutting, visit: