Baker River Fish Hatchery

LOCATION:  Whatcom County, Washington   |   OWNER:  Puget Sound Energy
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The Baker River Fish Hatchery and refurbished sockeye spawning beach located near the Upper Baker Dam was completed to increase sockeye fry production twofold from levels prior to 2008. Each year since the completion of the Hatchery, more than 5 million sockeye fry have been produced and released into the Baker Basin reservoirs.

By comparison, PSE’s previous Baker River fish-culture facility, which slowly expanded from its start in the early 1970s, could produce about 1.7 million fry per year. This fish-enhancement effort is directed under the 50-year federal operating license Puget Sound Energy received in 2008 for its two-dam Baker River Hydroelectric Project. The project includes a hatchery building, rearing units, adult holding units, renovation of the existing spawning beach, sediment reduction features for the existing water supply along with associated infrastructure improvements in the vicinity of the existing operation to support increased fish production.

The new hatchery was designed utilizing existing space between the trout pond and the spawning beaches. The final facility included 5 new buildings, 8 circular raceways, 8 fiberglass raceways, 10 concrete raceways, two transfer structures, one clarifier and a chemical treatment pond. The trout pond remained operational during construction.

The hatchery building was designed for incubation and early rearing of sockeye salmon. Water supply is delivered into an elevated head box and gravity fed to the incubation stacks and rearing troughs. Formalin piping, used for disease control, is routed so each incubation stack received formalin for treatment.

McMillen Jacobs Associates prepared detailed plans and specifications for the hatchery facility designed to rear sockeye and coho salmon. The hatchery is fed from a 40 cfs natural springs as well as a backup water supply from Sulphur Creek and Depression Lake. Starting with a detailed hydraulic analysis, McMillen Jacobs completed the site layout and facility design for all the hatchery components including modifications to the intake structure, new raw water pipeline, flow metering, headtank and Lakos sand separator building, hatchery building, outdoor rearing raceways, adult holding and spawning, storage building, clarifier, and INH chlorine / dechlorination treatment facility.

The design also included formalin storage and distribution facilities inside the hatchery as well as outside storage building for the adult holding. The hatchery building includes new administration area with crew work room, mud room, shower and restroom facilities, and offices. Incubation is divided into four sockeye rooms and one coho rooms to provide full disease separation. Early rearing tanks are provided for both species. The existing spawning beaches were improved with new liner, concrete isolation walls, pontoon platforms and jib cranes, and fry enumeration equipment.

McMillen Jacobs worked closely with PSE and WDFW operations staff in the hatchery design, instrumentation and monitoring systems, and hatchery operation protocol. McMillen Jacobs, as part of the design-build team, executed the construction administration and developed a detailed operations and maintenance plan. We also assisted in the start-up and commissioning.

National Hydropower Association Award