Characterization of Fish Passage Conditions through a Francis Turbine and Regulating Outlet at Cougar Dam, Oregon, Using Sensor Fish, 2009–2010

Fish passage conditions through a Francis turbine and a regulating outlet (RO) at Cougar Dam on the south fork of the McKenzie River in Oregon were evaluated by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District, using Sensor Fish devices. The objective of the study was to describe and compare passage exposure conditions, identifying potential fish injury regions encountered during passage via specific routes. The RO investigation was performed in December 2009 and the turbine evaluation in January 2010, concurrent with HI-Z balloon-tag studies by Normandeau Associates, Inc. Sensor Fish data were analyzed to estimate 1) exposure conditions, particularly exposure to severe collision, strike, and shear events by passage route sub-regions; 2) differences in passage conditions between passage routes; and 3) relationships to live-fish injury and mortality data estimates. Comparison of the three passage routes evaluated at Cougar Dam indicates that the RO passage route through the 3.7-ft gate opening was relatively the safest route for fish passage under the operating conditions tested; turbine passage was the most deleterious. These observations were supported also by the survival and malady estimates obtained from live-fish testing. Injury rates were highest for turbine passage. Compared to mainstem Columbia River passage routes, none of the Cougar Dam passage routes as tested are safe for juvenile salmonid passage.

Author: Duncan, J. P.


Funding: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Tool Type
Report Type
Technical Report