Journal article

Attractiveness of a lateral shelter in a channel as a refuge for juvenile brown trout during hydropeaking

Peak power production in hydroelectric storage power plants results in frequent and intense flow variations in the rivers downstream of the plants. Fish populations can be negatively impacted when subjected to these so-called hydropeaking phenomena. In researching mitigation solutions, shelters in the riverbanks of channelized rivers have been identified as a means of protecting fish from excessive flow velocities. These shelters were studied systematically using juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta fario) in an experimental configuration in which a straight channel was equipped with a lateral embayment. The purpose of the experiments was to generate hydrodynamic hydropeaking conditions in the channel that are undesirable for juvenile trout, thereby causing them to enter the shelter. The flow velocity distribution in the intersection plane between the main channel and the lateral shelter was found to be a significant parameter for attracting fish to the shelter. The utilization rate of trout in the shelter was used as a performance indicator. Using a basic rectangular shelter configuration without forced water exchange between the shelter and the channel, the utilization rate was only 35 %. This rate was more than doubled by introducing a deviation groyne to force water exchange between the channel and the shelter. The position and orientation angle of this groyne were systematically varied to maximize the utilization rate. Maximum utilization rates approaching 90 % were obtained for an optimum configuration in which an island-type groyne was placed in the shelter. The results of the systematic channel tests showed the potential of the shelter to attract fish. Such a shelter could be used in channelized rivers both for morphological revitalization and to improve fish habitats. As a next step in this research, prototype shelters will be built on a natural river and monitored for 2–3 years under a hydropeaking flow regime.

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