Giant water coolers installed to save salmon

Oct 7, 2014 7:55 PM by Charlene Cheng

Located at the foot of the Shasta Dam, the Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery is designed to provide the perfect environment to rear half a million babies.

"Chinook Salmon are iconic to the state of California and all over the Pacific Northwest. We're giving these fish the best chance at survival we can," said Scott Hamelberg, Project Leader for the Coleman National Hatchery Complex.

And that includes making sure the water is always at the perfect temperature.

To keep things moving along swimmingly, wildlife officials installed giant coolers to regulate the waters coming in from the Shasta Reservoir.

"For these fish, we like to keep them in the 60 degree range. Water temperatures coming in are about 64 to 65, and we like to knock them down a bit," Hamelberg said.

During a normal water year, the Bureau of Reclamation is able to use their 400-foot-tall Temperature Control Device to keep the water cool enough for fish, but that's difficult during a drought.

"With the lake starting out low, we did the best we could to conserve the cold water pool, and what's happened in the last few weeks is our temperatures are increasing to the point where the hatchery needs were not being met by the natural temperatures coming out of our power pump," said Don Bader, Deputy Area Manager for the Bureau of Reclamation.

This latest intervention is an investment to help save California's $1.4 billion fishing industry, while keeping alive an entire generation of endangered winter-run Chinook Salmon.

"There are four runs of Chinook Salmon in the Sacramento River system, and all these salmon contribute to the economy of the state of the California," Hamelberg said.


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