Albeni Falls Dam Permanent Fish Passage

LOCATION:  Spokane, Washington   |   OWNER:  USACE Seattle District
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Albeni Falls Dam (AFD) is located on the Pend Oreille River, just east of the Washington-Idaho border, 50 miles northeast of Spokane, Washington. Congress authorized construction of Albeni Falls Project as part of a comprehensive plan for the development of the Columbia River System. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) operates AFD to meet multiple authorized purposes: hydropower generation, flood risk management, navigation, recreation, and fish and wildlife conservation. AFD was constructed in 1951 without upstream fish passage facilities. After the bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) was listed as “Threatened”, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) required the action agencies (USACE and Bonneville Power Administration) to evaluate the feasibility of re-establishing bull trout passage at AFD.

In 2014, under a contract with the Kalispell Indian Tribe, McMillen Jacobs provided the design, manufacturing, and installation of a temporary fish passage and upstream migrant floating surface collector.

Subsequent to design approval, McMillen Jacobs coordinated the procurement and fabrication of the major equipment, access platform, the fish ladder, and the floating trapping facility, then fabricated the structure in our Seattle, Washington fabrication shop. This allowed for streamlining the shop drawing preparation and review and approval process, and also eliminated potential change orders that would occur if field adjustments to the completed structure were identified during installation. The major materials and equipment procured included the structural aluminum, pontoons, grating, valves and piping, fencing, and associated material; the access platform structural steel, grating, personnel ladders, adjustable steep pass fishway, and davit crane; the water supply pump station and intake; and the associated materials required to assemble the major components of the upstream fish passage facility.

An additional task consisted of installation, startup, and commissioning of the completed fish passage facility. Under this task, McMillen Jacobs arranged the transportation of the completed facility to Albeni Falls Dam, unloaded it, and launched the completed structure into the project tailrace with our construction personnel. Improvements to the existing facility to support access to the trap were completed in advance of the actual launch. All coordination with USACE operations staff has been coordinated by McMillen Jacobs, working closely with the Tribe.

This floating collector served successfully as an interim fish passage measure in lieu of electrofishing downstream. Annual operations included March–June until the Pend Oreille River temperatures exceeded 16–18°C, and again in the fall once temperatures dropped below this temperature point.

Later, in 2015, our team assisted in the feasibility study for the permanent fish passage solution. McMillen Jacobs provided the necessary feasibility-level engineering, design, and cost estimate of the Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) for upstream bull trout passage that has been identified and designed to the concept level.

McMillen Jacobs created: graphics, cost estimating, report writing, Design Documentation Report (DDR), and design changes to finalize feasibility technical appendix sections for the planning and construction of the TSP. These deliverables were included in the final feasibility report that the USACE prepared for this study. McMillen Jacobs addressed design-related comments from Agency Technical Review (ATR) of the existing concept-level designs and incorporated needed design changes in the feasibility phase design package and cost estimates.