One-way connectivity maintained by fish passing through hydropower turbines in fragmented rivers can be important to population dynamics, but can also introduce a new and significant source of mortality. Sources of mortality during turbine passage can come from several sources including blade strike, shear forces, cavitation, or pressure decreases and parsing the contributions of these individual forces is important for advancing and deploying turbines that minimize these impacts to fishes. We used a national hydropower database and conducted a systematic review of the literature to accomplish three goals: (1) report on the spatial distribution of turbine types and generation capacities in the USA, (2) determine fish mortality rates among turbine types and fish species and (3) examine relationships between physical forces similar to those encountered during fish turbine passage and fish injury and mortality. We found that while Francis turbines generate 56 % of all US hydropower and have the highest associated fish mortality of any turbine type, these turbines are proportionally understudied compared to less-common and less injury-associated Kaplan turbines, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. While juvenile salmonid species in actual or simulated Kaplan turbine conditions were the most commonly studied, the highest mortality rates were reported from percid fishes passing through Francis turbines. Future studies should focus on understanding which species are most at-risk to turbine passage injury and mortality and, subsequently, increasing the diversity of taxonomy and turbine types in evaluations of turbine injury and mortality.
Author: Pracheil BM, et al.
Journal: Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
Funding Source: The Department of Energy's Wind and Water Power Technologies Program