Niagara Power Project FERC No. 2216

 

FISH ENTRAINMENT AND MORTALITY STUDY

  

HTML Format.  Text only

 

Prepared for: New York Power Authority 

Prepared by: Acres International Corporation 

 

August 2005

 

Copyright © 2005 New York Power Authority

 

___________________________________________________

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

An assessment was done to determine the potential: 1) for young-of-the-year (YOY) and older fish to be entrained through the intakes and turbines of the Niagara Power Project (NPP) and 2) of various technologies to reduce entrainment and increase survival of fish entrained at the NPP.  

The assessment of entrainment for YOY and older fish was based on the species composition, and the relative abundance of fish sampled in Lewiston Reservoir, and the expected rate of entrainment survival for those fish species was based on a review of the literature.  A literature review was used because it was not feasible to conduct entrainment or turbine survival studies at NPP.  It must be noted that applying results from other sites must be done with caution because the combination of operating parameters at NPP (e.g., head, flow, etc.) are substantially different from the plants where field data were collected.

It appears that YOY and small (<8 inches) fish make up the majority of fish entrained at other sites.  During the night and on weekends, some of the water drawn through the NPP conduits is pumped into the reservoir of the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant (LPGP) for use during periods of higher electrical demand.  Comparison of fish catches in the upper Niagara River with those in the Lewiston Reservoir suggests that small forage fish may not be entrained to the same extent that occurs at other hydroelectric plants.  However, differences in habitats sampled in the river and reservoir, the relative limitations of electrofishing (which is generally employed to capture small fish) in the deep water of the reservoir and possible diurnal (day versus night) differences in entrainment rates of small forage fish may account for some of the observed catch differences between the upper Niagara River and Lewiston Reservoir.  Notwithstanding possible differences in diurnal entrainment rates in larger fish, northern pike, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch appear to be entrained more often than would be expected based on catches in the river and reservoir.  Similarly, species with relatively small territories, such as black and white crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed and largemouth bass and those associated with the bottom (brown bullhead, white sucker and goldfish) appear to be less susceptible to entrainment.

Entrainment of small fish at the NPP intakes on the upper Niagara River is likely due, in part, to downstream transport by strong water currents.  Therefore, if small fish are not entrained into the NPP intakes, strong water currents are likely to transport most of them downriver to the American Falls.  Survival of small fish over the American Falls is likely to be near 0% due to the long falling distance and impact with the hard surface (e.g., boulder field) at the base of the falls.

In tests conducted at other hydroelectric plants, immediate survival of fish passed through a turbine can range from 0 to 100%.  On average, however, immediate survival through vertical Francis turbines is about 75%.  Survival through turbines is generally more dependent on fish size than fish species, with higher survival among smaller fish.  Since there have been no survival tests conducted at sites with similar characteristics to NPP, estimates of turbine survival at NPP cannot be made.

Entrainment of fish at the NPP intakes has led to the establishment of an important urban/suburban fishery in the Lewiston Reservoir, particularly a spring fishery for yellow perch.  Entrainment also has enhanced bird watching and sport fishing opportunities in the tailrace of RMNPP because fish, alive or dead, released in the tailrace attract game fish and fish-eating birds.

Downstream passage technologies were evaluated to address the biological effectiveness and engineering feasibility of constructing them at the NPP.  Physical barriers that could exclude fish from the NPP facilities are not considered feasible, from an engineering perspective, due to the large size of the NPP facilities and the amount of ice and debris (aquatic vegetation) in the upper Niagara River.  Behavioral devices, such as strobe lights and sound, have not been shown to be effective in excluding most fish species typical of the upper Niagara River from intakes.  Additionally, behavioral devices mounted on the intakes are not likely to be effective because velocities near the intakes are higher than those where behavioral devices have successfully been deployed.  For those species where behavioral devices would be effective, the number of fish passing over the American Falls might increase.  Reducing entrainment could decrease the number of fish recruited to Lewiston Reservoir and the number of fish transported into the tailrace of RMNPP.

The bottom topography of Lewiston Reservoir could theoretically be altered for the purpose of increasing the number of fish retained.  However, these alterations are not likely to measurably increase fish retention without substantially increasing the amount of water unavailable for power production.  Moreover, it is possible that Lewiston Reservoir may not be able to support a larger fish community if additional fish are retained.

 

ABBREVIATIONS

Agencies

EPRI                Electric Power Research Institute

FERC               Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

FPC                 Federal Power Commission

NYSDEC         New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

NYSDOS         New York State Department of State

OMNR             Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

USACE            United States Army Corps of Engineers

Units of Measure

cfs                    cubic feet per second

cm                    centimeter

El.                    elevation

fps                    feet per second

ft                      feet/foot

GW                  gigawatt

hp                     horsepower

Hz                    hertz, cycles per second

k                      kilo (prefix for one thousand)

km                    kilometer

kV                    kilovolt

m                     meter

m                     milli (prefix for one-thousandth)

M                     mega (prefix for one million)

MVA               megavolt-ampere

MW                 megawatt

RPM                Revolutions per minute

Environmental

SAV                 submerged aquatic vegetation

YOY                Young-of-year

Miscellaneous

FSCR               First Stage Consultation Report

GIP                  Grass Island Pool

LPGP               Lewiston Pump Generating Plant

MIS                  Modular Inclined Screen

NGO                Non-Government Organization

NMPC             Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation

NPP                 Niagara Power Project

NRCS              Niagara River Control Structure

NYPA              New York Power Authority

OPG                 Ontario Power Generation

RBR                 Richard B. Russell Pump Generation Plant

RMNPP           Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

SAB                 Sir Adam Beck Generating Station

STS                  Submerged Traveling Screen

 

1.0     INTRODUCTION

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is engaged in the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston, New York.  The present operating license of the plant expires in August 2007.  As part of its preparation for the relicensing of the Niagara Project, NYPA is developing information related to the ecological, engineering, recreational, cultural, and socioeconomic aspects of the Project.  The Scope of Services outlined here relates to this information-gathering effort.

1.1         Background

The 1,880 MW (firm capacity) Niagara Power Project (NPP) is one of the largest non-federal hydroelectric facilities in North America.  The Project was licensed to the Power Authority of the State of New York (now the New York Power Authority) in 1957.  Construction of the Project began in 1958, and electricity was first produced in 1961.

The project has several components.  Twin intakes are located approximately 2.6 miles above Niagara Falls.  Water entering these intakes is routed around the Falls via two large low-head conduits to a 1.8-billion-gallon forebay, lying on an east-west axis about 4 miles downstream of the Falls.  The forebay is located on the east bank of the Niagara River.  At the west end of the forebay, between the forebay itself and the river, is the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant (RMNPP), NYPA’s main generating plant at Niagara.  This plant has 13 turbines that generate electricity from water stored in the forebay.  Head is approximately 300 ft.  At the east end of the forebay is the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant (LPGP).  Under non-peak-usage conditions (i.e., at night and on weekends), water is pumped from the forebay via the plant’s 12 pumps into the 22-billion-gallon Lewiston Reservoir, which lies east of the plant.  During peak usage conditions (i.e., daytime Monday through Friday), the pumps are reversed for use as generators, and water is allowed to flow back through the plant, producing electricity.  The forebay, therefore, serves as headwater for the RMNPP and tailwater from the LPGP.  South of the forebay is a switchyard, which serves as the electrical interface between the Project and its service area.  For purposes of generating electricity from Niagara Falls, two seasons are recognized:  tourist season and non-tourist season.  By the 1950 Niagara River Water Diversion Treaty, at least 100,000 cfs must be allowed to flow over Niagara Falls during tourist season (April 1 – October 31) daytime and evening hours, and at least 50,000 cfs at all other times.  Canada and the United States are entitled by international treaty to produce hydroelectric power with the remainder, sharing equally.

Water level fluctuations in the Chippawa-Grass Island Pool (in the upper Niagara River) are limited by an International Joint Commission directive to 1.5 ft per day.  It is important to note that water level fluctuations in both the upper and lower Niagara River may be caused by a number of factors other than operation of the NPP.  These may include wind, natural flow and ice conditions, and operation of power plants on the Canadian side of the river. 

Water level fluctuations in the lower Niagara River (upstream of the RMNPP tailrace) from all causes can be as great as 12 ft per day.  Most of this daily fluctuation is due to the change in the treaty-mandated control of flow over Niagara Falls.  Water level fluctuations downstream of the RMNPP tailrace are much less.  The average daily water level fluctuation 1.4 miles downstream of the RMNPP tailrace, during the 2002 tourist season, was approximately 1.5 ft.

Operation of the NPP can result in water level fluctuations in the Lewiston Reservoir of 8-18 ft per day and as much as 36 ft per week.

The investigation area includes the upper Niagara River, the falls, the Project between the NYPA intakes on the upper Niagara River and the RMNPP, and Lewiston Reservoir (Figure 1.1-1).

1.2         Objectives

This report addresses six related objectives that have been developed by NYPA in consultation with the resource agencies and other stakeholders to the Niagara Project relicensing.  Together, these six objectives provide information for the NEPA requirements and future settlement negotiations.  The objectives are as follows:

·         Estimate the survival rate of young-of-the-year (YOY) and older fish entrained through: (1) the LPGP, and (2) the RMNPP;

·         Compare the survival rate of fish passing over Niagara Falls with the survival rate of YOY and older fish entrained through LPGP or RMNPP;

·         Discuss the likelihood that YOY and older fish in the Niagara River are entrained through the Project intakes on the upper Niagara River;

·         Discuss the beneficial uses of entrained fish below the Project for bird and sport fish populations;

·         Incrementally assess the feasibility (based on biological effectiveness and engineering considerations) and cost (as necessary) of designing, installing, and maintaining: (1) physical or behavioral barriers to reduce the numbers of YOY and older fish entrained through the Project intakes on the upper Niagara River, LPGP during pumping and generating modes, and the RMNPP, and (2) a fish bypass at the RMNPP; and

·         Assess the need for and the feasibility of creating refuge habitats in the Lewiston Reservoir to help retain fish and to reduce the likelihood of fish being stranded at low water levels.

 

Figure 1.1-1

Project Vicinity

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

 

2.0     PROJECT SETTING

2.1         The Niagara River

The NPP is located on the east bank of the lower Niagara River (Niagara County, New York), approximately four miles downstream of Niagara Falls.  The 37-mile-long Niagara River connects Lakes Erie and Ontario, forming the boundary between the State of New York and the Province of Ontario, Canada.  Flowing generally from south to north, the river (technically a strait) is the principal outlet for four of the five Great Lakes, a drainage area of 263,700 square miles.  The Niagara River is navigable from Lake Erie to the Upper Rapids above Niagara Falls.  Below the Falls, it is navigable from the mouth at Lake Ontario to just upstream of the Niagara Power Project tailrace by conventional watercraft, and upstream to the Whirlpool by specialized watercraft. 

Average flow in the Niagara River is 212,300 cfs.  From its head at Lake Erie to its mouth at Lake Ontario, the river falls approximately 326 ft.  This steep descent and the relatively high and consistent flows create an ideal situation for hydropower generation.

2.2         Project Features

The NPP is comprised of: (1) two intake structures on the upper Niagara River, (2) two underground water conduits, (3) a forebay for storage of water used in the production of electric power, (4) the RMNPP, (5) the LPGP, (6) Lewiston Reservoir, and (7) a switchyard.

2.2.1        Intake Structures

Twin intakes, located 2.6 miles upstream of Niagara Falls, are the site of entry of Niagara River water into the system.  Each underwater reinforced-concrete structure is 700 ft long and contains 48 vertical-slot openings (see Photo 9).  Each slot opening is about 12 ft wide, and the 48 slots range in height from 13 to 26.5 ft.  The intakes are situated sequentially along the northern shore of the river, parallel to the main flow.  The tops of the openings lie 13-26 ft below the river surface.  Each intake has an associated gate structure, approximately 55 ft wide by 100 ft high.  Each structure contains two sets of slots: one for a 400-ton vertical wheeled gate, approximately 49 ft wide by 68 ft high, and the second for segmented bulkheads (stoplogs) that can be used in emergencies in place of the gate.  The gates are not used to regulate water diversion into the conduits but only to dewater the conduits for inspection or repair.

2.2.2        Water Conduits

The two underground conduits run generally northward from the intakes under the City of Niagara Falls to the southeast corner of the forebay, a distance of about 4.3 miles.  Each reinforced concrete conduit has a flow area 46 ft wide by 66.5 ft high.  The conduits have a combined capacity of approximately 110,000 cfs and no diversion or control mechanisms (Photo 9).

2.2.3        Forebay

The approximately 71-acre forebay serves as the headwater for RMNPP and receptor of tailwater from LPGP.  Constructed in rock, it is unlined, and measures approximately 4,200 ft long, by 500 ft wide, by 110 ft deep.  Depth of water in the forebay varies between 35 and 80 ft, depending upon operating conditions.  The forebay’s large volume (approximately 1.8 billion gallons) enables it to function as a surge basin when flows in the conduits change or when sudden load acceptance or rejection occurs in the plants.

2.2.4        Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

The RMNPP, located at the western end of the forebay, contains 13 individually controlled generating units in a 1,100-ft-long concrete structure located at the base of the gorge wall.  The intakes are oriented parallel to the flow of water from the forebay.   Twin portal intakes (i.e., total of 26 intake portals for the 13 generating units), each equipped with individual trashracks, steel head gates and fixed hoist machinery, supply water to 13, 462-ft long steel penstocks leading to each turbine.  The intake block, with its top deck at El. 585 ft and including the intake and penstock transition sections, is founded on rock at El. 585 ft.  The penstocks, each encased in reinforced concrete founded on the rock face of the gorge, are inclined 48.5º and range in diameter from 28.5 ft at the intake to 21 ft at the turbine.  Water from the forebay discharges from each unit through an individual draft tube into a short tailrace channel, perpendicular to the flow of the lower Niagara River.  The average head is about 300 ft.  The one-inch trashracks are on six inch centers, and are deployed to control ice and debris only on units 1, 2 and 13 from November through April, and the bottom third of the trashracks are deployed on all units from May through October.

The power plant consists of 13 Francis (vertical) type turbine generating units (El. 263 ft).  In 1990, NYPA began a program designed to upgrade the generating units at the RMNPP.  The new turbines will operate with improved efficiency and with increased peak capacity.  The added peak capacity from the upgraded turbines will permit the water stored in the Lewiston Reservoir to generate more electricity at times of peak demand.  To date, eight units have been upgraded from the original nameplate capacity of 167 MVA, 150 MW at 0.9 power factor to 215 MVA, 194 MW at 0.9 power factor.  As a result of the upgrades, the peak capacity of the units will be increased from approximately 175 MW to 200 MW.  When the upgrade is complete, efficiency improvements of 1-2% are expected to result in an overall increase in firm capacity of approximately 35 MW.  The total hydraulic capacity of the RMNPP will be increased from 102,000 cfs to 115,000 cfs (approximately 8,850 cfs per turbine).  Each of the turbines in the power plant, following upgrading, will generate 273,000 horsepower (hp) at 120 revolutions per minute (rpm).

2.2.5        Lewiston Pump Generating Plant and Lewiston Reservoir

The LPGP is located at the eastern end of the forebay and the western end of Lewiston Reservoir.  Its purpose is to pump water from the forebay into Lewiston Reservoir during periods of low electricity demand, generally at night and on weekends, and to generate electricity from the release of water in Lewiston Reservoir during periods of peak demand. 

Drawdown of Lewiston Reservoir generally occurs weekly and daily.  The drawdown is about the same from Monday through Friday, with partial refilling at night (for a net daily drawdown of 6-7 ft).  Total refilling of Lewiston Reservoir generally occurs on weekends.  Therefore, the reservoir is generally at maximum capacity on Monday morning, while it is at a minimum level on Friday evening.  Operation of the NPP can result in water level fluctuations in the Lewiston Reservoir of 8-18 feet per day, and as much as 36 feet per week.

Lewiston Reservoir is about 1,900 acres in area and comprised of a 6.5-mile-long rock-filled dike with impervious clay core.  The dike is anchored to each end of a 1,000-ft-long concrete plant intake structure.  At its maximum surface elevation (El. 658 ft), water in the reservoir is about 42 ft deep, and at its minimum (El. 620 ft), just over 3 ft.

The intakes of each of LPGP generating units (i.e., the intakes from the Lewiston Reservoir) consist of twin intake portals (inverts at El. 570 ft), each equipped with a gate slot.  Each portal may be closed with a steel gate, utilizing the associated hoisting mechanism.  The intake channel in the reservoir is bounded on the bottom by a 3 ft thick concrete apron, which slopes from the floor of the reservoir (El. 570 ft) to El. 618 ft approximately 100 ft upstream from the intakes.  Each intake discharges to a penstock (about 170 ft long), ranging in diameter from 24 ft at the upper end to 18 ft at the lower end, leading to the generation turbines in the powerhouse.

The LPGP consists of 12 Francis reversible type pump turbines, each connected to a motor-generator unit, which can be used to either pump water into Lewiston Reservoir for storage, or to generate electricity, utilizing water released from the reservoir, depending on energy demand and water supply.  As a generator, each unit can produce 20 MW at 28,000 hp, with a rated net head of 75 ft.  Units spin at 112.5 rpm each, with a rated hydraulic discharge capacity of 3,500 cfs as a generator.  Therefore, the total rated discharge capacity of LPGP is 42,000 cfs as a generator, with a total power generation nameplate capacity of 330 MW under normal flow conditions and 240 MW under low flow conditions.

            The draft tubes of the turbine units act as intakes during pumping mode and are provided with gates.  Each unit, as a pump, can generate 37,500 hp, with a net head of 85 ft, and has a pumping capacity of 3,400 cfs, for a total pumping capacity of 41,000 cfs.   The intakes of the pumps are oriented perpendicular to the flow exiting the conduits.

 

3.0     FISH COMMUNITY AND HABITAT

3.1         Upper Niagara River

The upper Niagara River supports a warm/cool water fish community with coldwater species (rainbow and brown trout) present in the fall, winter and spring periods (Kleinschmidt Associates 2002).  Carlson (2001) reported 92 species of fish in the upper Niagara River since the late 1800s.  Table 3.1-1 provides a list of species collected or observed in the upper Niagara River in the 1920s, between 1960 and 2000, and in 2001.  The coldwater salmonid species are maintained primarily through stocking programs in Lake Erie and its tributaries.

A survey of the fish community in the upper Niagara River was conducted in 2001 (Kleinschmidt Associates 2002).  Fish were collected by backpack and boat mounted electrofishing, fyke and trap netting, and seining, and were observed by SCUBA divers.  The surveys ranged from Strawberry Island downstream to the north end of Grand Island.  A total of 46 species were collected or observed in the upper Niagara River during May, July and September (Table 3.1.2).  Emerald shiner, rainbow smelt, and suckers accounted for approximately 80% of the fish collected or observed.  Sport fish collected or observed included black crappie, largemouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, smallmouth bass, white crappie, and yellow perch. No walleye or salmonids were collected or observed.

No surveys have been conducted in the Grass Island Pool (GIP) downstream of Grand Island.  However, given the current velocities in the area (average channel velocities are generally 2+ fps), it is likely that the fish community is dominated by riverine, benthic fish such as dace, sculpin, darter and sucker.  Where some structure exists and along the natural or rip-rap protected river banks, there should be species such as rock bass and smallmouth bass.  Pelagic species, such as alewife, are likely to be uncommon except in isolated special habitats or as drift from Lake Erie into the Niagara River.

Fish habitat has been described in URS et al. (2005a) and Goodyear et al. (1982).  The upper Niagara River contains numerous shoals, with many near Grand Island.  These shoals are important habitat for species such as rainbow (steelhead) and brown trout (during the winter), muskellunge, smallmouth bass, various panfish (crappies, rock bass and sunfish), as well as a number of Cyprinid species.  The shoals at the south end of Grand Island, bounded by Strawberry and Motor Islands, and those near Navy Island at the north end of Grand Island are known as muskellunge spawning areas.  Shoals along the west side of Grand Island are spawning areas for smallmouth bass and rock bass.  Substrate along these shoals consist of rock, gravel, sand, and mud and often contain extensive areas of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV).  Other important spawning and nursery areas include the streams on Grand Island and those on the Canadian side of the river for northern pike and various bait fish. 

The New York State Department of State (NYDOS) identified three significant coastal fish and wildlife habitats in the upper Niagara River that are relevant to this study.  These are the Buckhorn Island Wetlands, at the northwest tip of Grand Island; the Strawberry Island-Motor Island Shallows, at the southeast end of Grand Island; and the Grand Island Tributaries, including Gun, Spicer, Woods and Big Six Mile Creeks.  Each of these areas provides significant spawning and nursery habitat for several families of fish including esocids, centrarchids, and cyprinids.

The NPP intakes are located on the east side of the Grass Island Pool (GIP), which is relatively wide and deep (generally > 6 ft) with strong currents (generally > 2 fps) and little vertical structure (Figure 3.1-1).  Water levels in the GIP are in part controlled by the Niagara River Control Structure (NRCS) and are limited to a daily fluctuation as measured at the Material Dock gauge, of 1.5 feet.  In the immediate vicinity of the intakes, the bottom has been excavated to a depth of about 20 ft.  The shoreline is highly altered with rip-rap and areas that are supported with sheet piling.  With the exception of the Carborundum Reef, located downstream and offshore from the NPP intakes, the area is devoid of SAV.  Due to its strong currents, and its lack of vertical structure and vegetative cover, the GIP is not considered prime fish habitat.

3.2         Lewiston Reservoir

Fish stocks in the Lewiston Reservoir appear to be maintained principally by entrainment of fish through the intakes in the upper Niagara River and subsequently through LPGP.  There are no streams flowing into the reservoir.  The fish in the reservoir have been surveyed for NYPA in June 1975, November 1982, May and July 1983 and May, July and October 2000 (Environnement Illimité, Inc. 2001).  Sampling was conducted along eight transects, seven of which covered the entire sloped dike perimeter, and the eighth sampled the open water of the reservoir (Figure 3.2-1).  A total of 39 fish species have been collected from the reservoir (Tables 3.2-1 and 3.2-2).  Yellow perch or yellow perch and rock bass have dominated the catch in each of the sampling sessions.

Spawning habitat in the reservoir is limited.  The reservoir (when full) consists of relatively deep open water surrounded by steep sided (dropping vertically about 45 feet over a linear distance of about 200 feet), rip-rap shoreline.  The reservoir experiences a weekly cycle of filling and drawdown, with the lower portions of the dike and reservoir bottom (i.e., the portion below El. 620 ft) remaining consistently submerged.  At maximum drawdown (El. 620 ft), only about 10% of the gross storage capacity remains in the reservoir, and areas of the bottom are exposed.  Water levels are generally highest on Monday morning and lowest on Friday afternoon.

The reservoir bottom is relatively flat with little structure.  Much of the reservoir underlying substrate is rock and gravel that is uniformly covered by 6 to 10 in. of fine-grained sediment.  Substrates in the northeast corner and along the eastern end of the reservoir consist of primarily of clay, mud, muck and silt (TVGA and C&C 2002).  These areas are generally dewatered late in the week.  Due to the depth of the reservoir, SAV growth is limited to isolated patches.  The only isolated pools observed were along the south and northeast reservoir berms, where there is excess rock forming narrow “troughs” where water is retained during drawdown.  Some fish were observed in these troughs by the study team during a site visit late in the week.  Water eventually drains from these troughs and some fish are stranded.

Larval fish were sampled in the reservoir from May through August 1983 (NYPA 1984).  Smelt was the most abundant species in May and June, while cyprinids (minnows) and centrarchids (sunfish and bass) were most common in July.  Spawning likely occurs in the Lewiston Reservoir only on a very limited basis with adult populations maintained primarily by the transport of fish from the upper Niagara River into the reservoir through the conduits and the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant (NYPA 1984).  Studies have found evidence of only very limited spawning activity in the reservoir by yellow perch and rock bass  (Ecological Analysts 1984).

 

Table 3.1-1

Fish Community Composition of the Upper Niagara River, New York and Ontario

Common Name

Scientific Name(1)

Circa(2) 1927

1960-2000(2)

2001

American Brook Lamprey

Lampetra appendix

 

X(3)

 

Sea Lamprey

Petromyzon marinus

 

X

 

Lake Sturgeon

Acipenser fulvescens

X

X

 

Longnose Gar

Lepisosteus osseus

X

X

X

Bowfin

Amia calva

 

X

X

Mooneye

Hiodon tergisus

 

X

 

American Eel

Anguilla rostrata

X

X

X

Alewife

Alosa pseudoharengus

X

X

X

Gizzard Shad

Dorosoma cepedianum

 

X

X

Central Stoneroller

Campostoma anomalum

X

X

 

Goldfish

Carassius auratus

 

X

X

Lake Chub

Couesius plumbeus

 

X

 

Satinfin Shiner

Cyprinella analostana

X

X

 

Spotfin Shiner

Cyprinella spiloptera

X

X

X

Common Carp

Cyprinus carpio

X

X

X

Striped Shiner

Luxilus chrysocephalus

X

X

 

Common Shiner

Luxilus cornutus

X

X

X

Redfin Shiner

Lythrurus umbratilis

X

X

 

Hornyhead Chub

Nocomis biguttatus

X

X

X

River Chub

Nocomis micropogon

X

X

 

Golden Shiner

Notemigonus crysoleucas

X

X

X

Emerald Shiner

Notropis atherinoides

X

X

X

Bridle Shiner

Notropis bifrenatus

 

X

 

Blackchin Shiner

Notropis heterodon

X

 

X

Blacknose Shiner

Notropis heterolepis

X

X

 

Spottail Shiner

Notropis hudsonius

X

X

X

Sand Shiner

Notropis stramineus

X

X

 

Mimic Shiner

Notropis volucellus

X

X

 

Bluntnose Minnow

Pimephales notatus

X

X

X

Fathead Minnow

Pimephales promelas

X

X

 

Blacknose Dace

Rhinichthys atratulus

 

X

 

Longnose Dace

Rhinichthys cataractae

X

X

 

Rudd

Scardinius erythrophthalamus

 

X

X

Creek Chub

Semotilus atromaculatus

X

X

X

Fallfish

Semotilus corporalis

 

X

 

Table 3.1-1 (cont.)

Fish Community Composition of the Upper Niagara River, New York and Ontario

Common Name

Scientific Name(1)

Circa 1927(2)

1960-2000(2)

2001

Quillback

Carpiodes cyprinus

 

X

X

White Sucker

Catostomus commersonii

X

X

X

Lake Chubsucker

Erimyzon sucetta

X

 

 

Northern Hog Sucker

Hypentelium nigricans

X

X

X

Silver Redhorse

Moxostoma anisurum

X

X

X

Black Redhorse

Moxostoma duquesnei

 

X

 

Golden Redhorse

Moxostoma erythrurum

 

X

 

Shorthead Redhorse

Moxostoma macrolepidotum

X

X

X

Greater Redhorse

Moxostoma valenciennesi

 

X

X

Black Bullhead

Ameiurus melas

 

X

 

Yellow Bullhead

Ameiurus natalis

 

X

 

Brown Bullhead

Ameiurus nebulosus

X

X

X

Channel Catfish

Ictalurus punctatus

X

X

 

Stonecat

Noturus flavus

X

X

 

Tadpole Madtom

Noturus gyrinus

 

X

X

Brindled Madtom

Noturus miurus

 

X

X

Grass Pickerel

Esox americanus vermiculatus

X

X

 

Northern Pike

Esox lucius

X

X

X

Muskellunge

Esox masquinongy

X

X

X

Central Mudminnow

Umbra limi

X

X

X

Rainbow Smelt

Osmerus mordax

 

X

X

Coho Salmon

Oncorhynchus kisutch

 

X

 

Rainbow Trout/

Steelhead

Oncorhynchus mykiss

 

X

X

Chinook Salmon

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

 

X

 

Brown Trout

Salmo trutta

 

X

 

Lake Trout

Salvelinus namaycush

 

X

 

Trout Perch

Percopsis omiscomaycus

X

X

 

Burbot

Lota lota

 

X

 

Brook Silverside

Labidesthes sicculus

X

X

X

Banded Killifish

Fundulus diaphanus

X

X

X

Brook Stickleback

Culaea inconstans

X

X

X

Threespine Stickleback

Gasterosteus aculeatus

X

 

X

Table 3.1-1 (cont.)

Fish Community Composition of the Upper Niagara River, New York and Ontario

Common Name

Scientific Name(1)

Circa 1927(2)

1960-2000(2)

2001

Nine-spine Stickleback

Pungitius pungitius

 

X

 

Mottled Sculpin

Cottus bairdii

X

X

X

White Perch

Morone americana

 

X

X

White Bass

Morone chrysops

X

X

X

Rock Bass

Ambloplites rupestris

X

X

X

Green Sunfish

Lepomis cyanellus

 

X

 

Pumpkinseed

Lepomis gibbosus

X

X

X

Bluegill

Lepomis macrochirus

 

X

X

Smallmouth Bass

Micropterus dolomieu

X

X

X

Largemouth Bass

Micropterus salmoides

 

X

X

White Crappie

Pomoxis annularis

 

X

X

Black Crappie

Pomoxis nigromaculatus

 

X

X

Greenside Darter

Etheostoma blennioides

 

X

 

Rainbow Darter

Etheostoma caeruleum

X

X

 

Iowa Darter

Etheostoma exile

X

X

X

Fantail Darter

Etheostoma flabellare

 

X

 

Johnny Darter

Etheostoma nigrum

X

X

X

Yellow Perch

Perca flavescens

X

X

X

Logperch

Percina caprodes

X

X

X

Sauger

Sander canadensis

X

X

 

Walleye

Sander vitreus

X

X

X

Blue Pike

Sander vitreus glaucus

X

X

 

Freshwater Drum

Aplodinotus grunniens

X

X

X

Hybrid Carp x Goldfish

NA

 

X

 

Round Goby

Neogobius melanostomus

 

X

 

Notes: 

1.        Common and scientific names of fishes after American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 29, 2004.

2.        Fish community composition of the Niagara River, circa 1927 and 1960-2000, based on Greeley (1929), NMPC (1977), and Carlson (2001), respectively.

3.        Fish species listed in each source are indicated with an X.  Lists include species present in the Niagara River only as migrants, species found either upstream or downstream of the Falls, and species found in the Lewiston Reservoir.

2001 data from Kleinschmidt Associates (2002).

 

Table 3.1-2

Species Composition (%) of Adult and Juvenile Fish Caught or Observed in the Upper Niagara River

Common Name

Grass Island

Woods Creek

Burnt Ship Ck.

Buckhorn East

Big Six Mile Ck.

Gun Creek

Spicer Creek

Strawberry Island

Motor Island

Tonawanda Creek

All Sites

Longnose Gar

 

 

 

 

0.0

 

 

 

 

 

0.00

Bowfin

 

 

 

 

0.0

 

 

 

0.0

 

0.00

Alewife

 

 

 

 

0.7

 

 

0.0

 

 

0.09

Gizzard Shad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.0

0.0

 

0.00

Goldfish

1.4

0.9

 

0.4

0.2

3.0

0.5

 

 

 

0.26

Spotfin Shiner

 

 

 

0.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.01

Carp

0.3

0.5

 

0.1

0.6

1.7

0.1

0.0

0.8

 

0.20

Common Shiner

22.7

1.2

0.7

2.0

3.9

7.1

1.3

0.1

0.1

 

2.32

Hornyhead Chub

 

 

 

0.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.03

Golden Shiner

0.1

4.3

0.0

0.1

3.2

2.5

0.8

 

 

 

0.69

Emerald Shiner

0.3

33.0

86.7

39.9

75.0

44.1

81.6

57.9

25.5

3.0

54.60

Blackchin Shiner

 

 

0.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.02

Spottail Shiner

10.4

5.1

0.3

36.4

5.9

12.5

0.6

0.4

4.0

 

6.91

Shiners

 

0.2

0.1

 

 

 

 

 

0.3

 

0.02

Bluntnose Minnow

1.0

1.9

1.9

5.5

1.0

1.1

2.6

0.9

0.2

 

1.70

Minnow

4.6

1.6

3.2

0.0

 

 

0.1

 

6.3

 

0.71

Rudd

0.1

 

 

0.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.01

Creek Chub

 

0.2

 

0.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.01

Quillback

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.0

 

 

 

0.00

White Sucker

1.0

4.2

0.0

3.3

0.2

5.1

0.5

0.1

0.5

 

0.83

Northern Hog Sucker

0.0

 

 

0.0

 

 

 

0.1

 

 

0.04

Sucker

53.6

0.9

3.2

4.9

0.0

 

5.0

18.1

56.0

 

15.18

Silver Redhorse

0.0

0.6

 

0.2

0.1

0.3

 

 

0.0

 

0.11

Shorthead Redhorse

 

0.7

 

0.1

0.0

0.5

0.0

0.0

 

 

0.06

Greater Redhorse

 

 

 

0.0

0.0

 

 

 

 

 

0.01

Brown Bullhead

1.2

2.9

0.1

0.1

1.5

7.1

0.5

0.0

0.5

 

0.55

Tadpole Madtom

 

0.1

 

 

 

0.6

 

 

 

 

0.01

Table 3.1-2 (CONT.)

Species Composition (%) of Adult and Juvenile Fish Caught or Observed in the Upper Niagara River

Common Name

Grass Island

Woods Creek

Burnt Ship Ck.

Buckhorn East

Big Six Mile Ck.

Gun Creek

Spicer Creek

Strawberry Island

Motor Island

Tonawanda Creek

All Sites

Brindled Madtom

 

 

 

0.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.00

Northern Pike

0.5

0.3

 

 

0.1

0.1

 

 

0.1

 

0.06

Pike

0.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.0

 

0.00

Muskellunge

0.2

0.1

0.1

 

0.0

0.1

0.3

0.0

1.6

 

0.11

Central Mudminnow

 

 

0.1

 

 

0.3

0.2

 

 

 

0.02

Rainbow Smelt

0.2

0.0

 

0.0

 

0.1

 

21.0

0.1

 

10.27

Brook Silverside

 

2.1

 

 

1.3

0.1

 

0.4

 

 

0.47

Banded Killifish

0.3

0.0

0.7

0.3

 

0.1

0.3

0.2

0.2

 

0.21

Mottled Sculpin

 

 

 

0.1

 

 

 

 

0.0

 

0.01

White Perch

 

0.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.00

Rock Bass

0.9

11.5

 

1.2

0.9

10.2

2.4

0.0

0.8

 

1.11

Pumpkinseed

 

12.6

 

0.1

0.4

1.6

0.7

0.0

0.0

39.4

0.69

Bluegill

 

0.8

0.1

0.0

0.5

0.5

0.2

0.0

 

 

0.13

Sunfish

 

4.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.19

Smallmouth Bass

0.5

0.0

 

0.2

0.1

 

0.0

0.1

0.2

 

0.11

Largemouth Bass

0.8

6.4

1.1

3.9

2.4

6.0

1.4

0.4

0.9

 

1.54

Bass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.0

 

 

0.00

White Crappie

 

0.0

 

0.0

0.2

 

0.2

 

 

 

0.04

Black Crappie

 

2.0

 

 

1.4

 

0.1

0.0

 

 

0.28

Crappie

 

1.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.04

Iowa Darter

0.0

 

 

0.3

 

 

0.0

 

 

57.6

0.07

Johnny Darter

0.0

0.0

 

0.6

 

 

0.2

0.1

0.8

 

0.16

Yellow Perch

0.1

0.3

 

 

0.1

 

0.0

0.0

0.3

 

0.05

Logperch

 

 

 

0.0

0.2

 

 

 

 

 

0.03

Freshwater Drum

 

 

 

 

0.1

 

 

 

0.0

 

0.01

Unidentified

 

 

 

 

0.1

0.1

0.3

0.0

0.1

 

0.03

Total Number

3108

2232

2155

7064

6938

630

3269

26239

2019

33

53687

Note:  From Kleinschmidt Associates (2002).  Gear utilized included backpack and boat-mounted electrofishing, fyke and trap nets, and SCUBA diver observations.

 

Table 3.2-1

Results (No. and %) of Fish Surveys in the Lewiston Reservoir in 1975, 1982 and 1983

Common Name

June 1975

November 1982

May 1983

July 1983

Sea Lamprey

1 (<1)

 

 

 

American Eel

1 (<1)

 

1 (<1)

 

Alewife

28 (1)

 

 

1 (<1)

Gizzard Shad

 

 

2 (<1)

 

Goldfish

1 (<1)

 

 

 

Lake Chub

 

 

 

1 (<1)

Carp

43 (1)

 

 

 

Common Shiner

2 (<1)

 

1 (<1)

 

Spottail Shiner

90 (2)

11 (4)

10 (1)

 

White Sucker

287 (7)

34 (12)

72 (4)

20 (3)

Shorthead Redhorse

8 (<1)

3 (1)

13 (1)

6 (1)

Brown Bullhead

1 (<1)

 

 

 

Northern Pike

1 (<1)

 

1 (<1)

 

Muskellunge

1 (<1)

 

1 (<1)

 

Rainbow Smelt

2 (<1)

18 (7)

4 (<1)

 

Coho Salmon

1 (<1)

 

1 (<1)

 

Rainbow Trout

1 (<1)

1 (<1)

3 (<1)

2 (<1)

Brown Trout

5 (<1)

 

 

 

Trout-Perch

4 (<1)

 

 

 

White Bass

4 (<1)

7 (3)

 

 

Rock Bass

230 (5)

71 (25)

626 (33)

241 (42)

Pumpkinseed

53 (1)

 

1 (<1)

10 (2)

Smallmouth Bass

9 (<1)

1 (<1)

15 (1)

35 (6)

White Crappie

1 (<1)

 

 

 

Johnny Darter

1 (<1)

 

2 (<1)

 

Yellow Perch

3444 (81)

123 (44)

1103 (59)

233 (40)

Logperch

3 (<1)

5 (2)

10 (1)

22 (4)

Walleye

1 (<1)

 

 

 

Freshwater Drum

20 (1)

1 (1)

3 (<1)

5 (1)

Carp x Goldfish

 

 

1 (<1)

 

Note: From URS et al. (2005a)

Gear utilized included trap netting, gill netting, trawl netting, and boat-mounted electrofishing.

 

Table 3.2-2

Fish Catch in the LewIston Reservoir During May, July, and October 2000

 

Common Name

May

July

October

Total

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

American Eel

 

 

 

 

1

0.4

1

0.1

Alewife

4

0.8

3

0.9

1

0.4

8

0.8

Carp

18

3.6

25

7.8

22

1.0

65

6.2

Common Shiner

12

2.4

 

 

 

 

12

1.1

Golden Shiner

1

0.2

 

 

 

 

1

0.1

Emerald Shiner

50

10.1

 

 

3

1.3

53

5.1

Spottail Shiner

17

3.4

3

1.0

1

0.4

21

2.0

Bluntnose Minnow

1

0.2

 

 

 

 

1

0.1

Quillback

 

 

 

 

1

0.4

1

0.1

White Sucker

1

0.2

9

2.8

4

1.7

14

1.3

Silver Redhorse

 

 

2

0.6

 

 

2

0.2

Shorthead Redhorse

5

1.0

2

0.6

1

0.4

8

0.8

Greater Redhorse

1

0.2

1

0.3

 

 

2

0.2

Brown Bullhead

 

 

1

0.3

 

 

1

0.1

Channel Catfish

 

 

 

 

1

0.4

1

0.1

Northern Pike

28

5.6

25

7.8

38

16.5

91

8.7

Muskellunge

1

0.2

 

 

 

 

1

0.1

Rainbow Smelt

1

0.2

6

1.9

2

0.9

9

0.9

Rainbow Trout

3

0.6

4

1.2

2

0.9

9

0.9

White Bass

1

0.2

6

1.9

 

 

7

0.7

Rock Bass

61

12.3

122

37.9

95

41.1

278

26.5

Pumpkinseed

5

1.0

 

 

7

3.0

12

1.1

Smallmouth Bass

12

2.4

22

6.8

23

10.0

57

5.4

Largemouth Bass

1

0.2

 

 

1

0.4

2

0.2

Black Crappie

 

 

4

1.2

 

 

4

0.4

Johnny Darter

 

 

45

14.0

 

 

45

4.3

Yellow Perch

266

53.6

27

8.4

18

7.8

311

29.7

Logperch

7

1.4

11

3.4

5

2.2

23

2.2

Freshwater Drum

 

 

4

1.2

5

2.2

9

0.9

Total

496

 

322

 

231

 

1049

 

Note: From Environnement Illimité, Inc. 2001.

Gear utilized included trap netting, gill netting, trawl netting, and boat-mounted electrofishing.

 

Figure 3.1-1

Aquatic Habitat Features of the Grass Island Pool

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

 

Figure 3.2-1

Sampling Zones in Lewiston Reservoir

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

 

4.0     FISH ENTRAINMENT

4.1         Review of Entrainment at Other Projects

A review of available documents and literature was conducted to assess the relevance of the fish community and habitat information presented above with regard to entrainment at the NPP.  The results of this review are presented in the following sections.

4.1.1        Conventional Hydroelectric Projects

Entrainment and survival of fish passing through hydroelectric turbines have been investigated for many years (Bell 1991; Eicher 1987), but most of these earlier studies focused on the passage survival of anadromous species, particularly salmon and steelhead trout.  However, beginning in the late-1980’s and into the mid-1990’s, several fish entrainment studies were conducted at hydroelectric projects throughout the northeastern, midwestern, and southeastern U.S., primarily involving “resident,” non-anadromous species.  These studies were mostly associated with the FERC relicensing of the “Class of 1993” projects, which consisted of 157 projects whose licenses expired at the end of 1993.  Most of the projects where entrainment studies were conducted were located in Michigan, Wisconsin, and New York, but studies were also conducted at projects in Minnesota, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia.  The results of these several entrainment studies have been filed with FERC under their separate docket numbers, but three reviews summarizing the results of these studies have been published:  EPRI (1992), FERC (1995), and EPRI (1997).

EPRI (1992) summarized the results of entrainment studies conducted through 1991.  Because the significant number of studies conducted from 1992 through 1996 is not reported in this review, we will focus our discussion on the results reported by FERC (1995) and EPRI (1997). 

FERC (1995) summarized the results of entrainment studies completed through 1993, but only included studies conducted using hydroacoustics, intake netting, or tailrace netting, and where there was a reasonable level of confidence in the entrainment estimate.  FERC did not include sites that were “geographically isolated” (outside of the main groupings of projects in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast) and did not include any pumped storage projects.  The objective of FERC (1995) was to review recent entrainment studies to identify trends that would potentially allow entrainment to be assessed at hydro projects without extensive studies, or to provide a basis for suggesting improvements in future studies. 

EPRI (1997) is a turbine entrainment and survival database that includes many of the studies reported in FERC (1995) and additional studies completed through 1996.  The objective of the EPRI database is similar to FERC (1995), to provide a compilation of entrainment and survival studies that would allow others to utilize these data to evaluate entrainment at unstudied sites.  The EPRI entrainment database includes only studies that were conducted using full-flow tailrace netting, in which the entire outflow from one or more generating units is sampled.  No hydroacoustic studies are included.  The turbine passage survival database includes only studies with paired releases of treatment fish (those that pass through the turbine) and control fish (those that are released below the turbine), using either full-flow turbine netting or balloon tag retrieval methods.  The database did not include any survival estimates based on passive netting of naturally entrained fish, or estimates derived from radio telemetry or PIT tagging methods.  EPRI (1997) does not include any interpretation of results (as FERC 1995 did), but instead simply provides the data along with ancillary information such as the site characteristics, unit type and characteristics, and other notes/observations recorded during the studies.

4.1.1.1  Similarity of Niagara Project to Sites Studied

None of the sites reported in FERC (1995) or EPRI (1997) were equal in size (generating or hydraulic capacity) to the NPP.  The 45 studies reported on by FERC (1995) were at projects ranging in size from 0.56 MW to 102 MW, with hydraulic capacities from 360 cfs to 35,598 cfs.  Most of the sites, however, were less than 5 MW, with hydraulic capacities less than 3,000 cfs.[1]  The EPRI (1997) entrainment database includes test data from 43 sites, while the turbine passage survival database includes test data from 51 different turbines.  The 43 entrainment sites had total hydraulic capacities ranging from 270 to 60,000 cfs, but only the Richard B. Russell Project in South Carolina, at 60,000 cfs, was similar in size to any of NPP facilities.  The Russell Project, which is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, also has pump-generating units, similar to the LPGP.  The other 42 projects have hydraulic capacities less than 7,500 cfs.  Of the 51 turbines reported on in the survival database, only one site had vertical Francis units with a hydraulic capacity similar in size to any of the Niagara units.  The Holtwood Project, Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania, has units with a capacity of 3,500 cfs, but the head is about 55 ft, lower than any of the units at Niagara.  All the other vertical Francis units in the database have capacities less than 2,450 cfs, and most are less than 2,000 cfs.

Another dissimilarity of the previously-studied sites to NPP is that most (if not all) of the studied sites are conventional hydroelectric stations where the powerhouse is integral to a dam on a mainstem river or reservoir, or is located on a forebay or power canal.  At Niagara, with the river shoreline intakes, Niagara River fish have the option of bypassing the intakes by staying in the main river flow.  Once fish enter the Niagara forebay, however, they would be susceptible to entrainment into either the LPGP or the RMNPP, similar to other hydroelectric stations.

4.1.1.2  Similarity of Fish Community

Because many of the projects previously studied are located in the Great Lakes drainage of Michigan and Wisconsin, and in New York, there are similarities in the fish communities between many of the studied sites and the Niagara River.  Many of the studied sites have warmwater/coolwater resident fish communities with similar species composition to the upper Niagara River.

4.1.1.3  Summary of Entrainment at Other Projects

EPRI (1992), FERC (1995), and EPRI (1997) reported a wide range in entrainment rates at the projects where studies were conducted.  Possibly because of this variability, FERC (1995) found few statistically significant relationships between entrainment rates and the size or design of projects, flow rate, and other physical variables.  FERC (1995), however, stated that much of the variability may be due to the variety of study designs and sampling methods used in the studies reviewed, and that it still may be appropriate to apply entrainment rates observed at studied projects to other projects within the same watershed.  Although entrainment rates observed for specific species was also variable, FERC (1995) found some consistent trends for the same species, particularly within the same drainage.  For example, for warmwater/coolwater species, entrainment is normally low during the winter months and higher during the spring/summer/fall months.  At sites where large numbers of clupeids occur in the project reservoir, episodic high entrainment events may occur as dense schools of clupeids periodically enter the intake area.  High entrainment rates for clupeids often occur during the winter period, probably due to low water temperature stress and the weakened condition of the fish.  This is particularly the case for reservoirs with high populations of gizzard shad or threadfin shad. 

Other general characterizations of fish entrainment made by EPRI (1992) and FERC (1995), with the caveat that entrainment is variable from site to site, include:

·         Entrainment is relatively low (less than 20 fish/hour) for most resident warmwater/coolwater fish communities;

·         Over 90% of the fish entrained are young-of-year (YOY) or juvenile fish less than 200 mm (8 in.) in length, and at many sites 90% are less than 100 mm (4 in.) long;[2] and

·         Larger gamefish species comprise a very low percentage of the total fish entrained.[3]

The higher catch of YOY and juvenile fish and lower catch of larger fish may be explained by either that there are simply higher numbers of YOY/juvenile fish in a typical fish population, that there is a density-dependent mechanism that results in a downstream movement of juvenile life stages that are “surplus production” seeking vacant habitat, avoidance by larger fish with greater swimming speed relative to smaller fish, or that many of the projects studied had trashracks that may physically exclude the much larger fish but allow most fish to pass through and enter the turbines.

The above generalizations, particularly with respect to the entrainment rate of 20 fish per hour, may not apply to NPP as all of the sites studied had flow rates that were much lower than NPP.  It should also be noted that the intakes at NPP do not have bar racks.

4.1.2        Pumped Storage Facilities

4.1.2.1  Case Studies

The EPRI (1992), FERC (1995), and EPRI (1997) reviews included only one pumped storage project, the 200-MW Mt. Elbert Pumped Storage Project, Twin Lakes, Colorado.[4]  Fish and opossum shrimp entrainment was monitored using partial recovery tailrace and intake nets.  For both fish and opossum shrimp (which may be indicative of fish early life stages), the entrainment during the pumping cycle was several times that of the generation cycle, as follows:

Species

Pumping

Generating

Opossum shrimp

2.38 – 17.19/m3

0.05 – 1.21/m3

Various fish species1

14.92/million m3

(fish > 150 mm in length)2

1.52/million m3

(fish > 150 mm in length)2

 Notes:  1 Rainbow trout, lake trout, kokanee salmon, longnose sucker, and white sucker.

            2 150 mm = 5.9 in.

Other pumped storage projects where entrainment/mortality studies have been conducted (but were not reported in any of the above reviews) include the Ludington Pumped Storage Project on Lake Michigan and the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project, Connecticut River, Massachusetts.  The 1,872-MW Ludington Project went into operation in 1973 and uses Lake Michigan as its lower reservoir.  Significant mortality of large salmonids and other species from Lake Michigan, primarily during the pumping phase, was documented by several studies funded by the licensee, and filed with FERC.  As described in further detail in Section 6.1, as a result of a 1996 settlement agreement, a seasonal barrier net was installed by the licensee in Lake Michigan, to prevent fish from entering the project intakes during the peak period of fish activity (the summer months).

The Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project is located on a reach of the Connecticut River that is used seasonally by several anadromous species, including Atlantic salmon, American shad, and river herring.  The 1,000-MW project was constructed in the 1970’s by Northeast Utilities, and, while the company has investigated fish entrainment and mortality at the site, its efforts have focused almost exclusively on salmon and shad.  Several studies using radio telemetry and partial recovery nets have been conducted to determine the impact of the project on salmon smolts and juvenile shad migrating past the site, and some testing has been done with barrier nets (see Section 6.1).  Evidence of entrainment and mortality during the pumping phase was collected, but actual entrainment and mortality rates were not determined (Robert Stira, Northeast Utilities, to Peter Foote, The Louis Berger Group, Inc., personal communication, October 15 and 22, 2003).  The effects of the project on the resident warmwater/ coolwater fish community have not been studied in detail.

4.1.2.2  Applicability to the Niagara Project

The three pumped storage projects described above are all dissimilar in design/location to LPGP.  Mt. Elbert is located on a large lake (Twin Lakes) in Colorado, Ludington is located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, and Northfield Mountain is located on a much smaller river than the Niagara.  The fish communities at the three projects are also unlike the Niagara River.  At both Mt. Elbert and Ludington, there are large salmonid populations, while at Northfield, although the resident fish community is similar to the Niagara (a warmwater/coolwater community), the focus of studies has been only on the anadromous species.  An important finding of the studies at both Mt. Elbert and Ludington, and from anecdotal information at Northfield Mountain, however, is that it appears more entrainment typically occurs during the pumping cycle than the generating cycle.  These two facilities along with the LPGP are diurnal with regard to pumping.  The pumping cycles occur at night, and as a result may skew the entrainment, since fish are more susceptible at night to entrainment.  Moreover, since some fish die during the pumping cycle, then fewer fish may be present to be entrained during generation, however, there are also habitat differences that may result in retention in these pump storage reservoirs.  If these findings are applicable to NPP, then many of the fish entering the Niagara forebay from the river, immediately downstream of LPGP, may be entrained at the LPGP and pumped up to the Lewiston Reservoir.  

4.2         Assessment of Potential Fish Entrainment

4.2.1        Niagara Power Project

Physical processes of fish entrainment at the intakes of NPP are a function of the probability that fish encounter the flow field and how they react to it.

As discussed in Section 3.1, the area near the intakes has been excavated and contains little structure, and given that the currents in that area of the river are relatively high (average channel velocities are generally 2+ fps, URS et al. 2005b), prime fish habitat for most species is likely limited.  The local resident fish community in the GIP is probably dominated by riverine benthic fish such as dace, sculpin, darter, sucker, and the recently introduced round goby.  Given the probable fish community in the GIP and the relatively high current velocities, “cruising behavior” would not occur frequently.  Rather, fish will remain close to cover and within small ranges or territories.  Consequently, the likelihood of contact with the NPP intakes for GIP resident fish is small.  Fish may enter the GIP due to migratory behavior, density dependent movements or as drift in the strong currents.  These fish probably include pelagic species and YOY that cannot maintain their position in the strong river currents and would likely be more susceptible to entrainment in the intakes.

Once a fish encounters the flow field of the NPP intakes, their ability to avoid entrainment is determined by the fish’s behavioral responses to changes in current velocity and its swimming ability.  Most fish species are positively rheotactic (i.e., they orient themselves to face upstream against the current).  Many mature gamefish typical of the upper Niagara River can generally swim against currents of 2.5 fps or more and have burst speeds greater than 3.25 fps (Pope undated).

Table 4.2.1-1 provides the estimated flow velocity, calculated on the basis of the cross-sectional area of the intake openings, at the intakes utilizing long-term average minimum and maximum flows in the Niagara River during tourist and non-tourist seasons when either 100,000 cfs or 50,000 cfs must be maintained over the falls.  For the average river flow of 212,300 cfs, the average velocity at the portals of each of the intakes would be 5.9 fps during tourist flows and 8.5 fps during non-tourist flows.  For the extreme river flow occurrences, average velocities could be as low as 2.8 fps during the tourist season in extremely low river flow years and as high as 11.6 fps when river flow was high enough to meet the maximum design capacity of the conduits.  These velocity estimates would likely decrease quickly away from the portals, depending on river flow and other factors.  We have conservatively estimated that velocities would decrease by half 20 ft away from the portals, but this could only be verified by field studies.

Velocities experienced by fish approaching the intakes would increase from the ambient river velocity (average channel velocities are generally 2+ fps) to a velocity of 3 to 4 fps 20 ft from the portals and then to a maximum velocity calculated at the intake portals of 5.9 or 8.5 fps under average flow conditions, depending on season.  Consequently, fish with maximum sustained swimming speeds of less than 1 to 2 fps (e.g., YOY and small fish) would likely seek cover in preferred low velocity habitat well upstream of the NPP intakes.  Those fish with maximum sustained swimming speeds of less than 2 fps that did not seek cover upstream of the NPP intakes would not likely be capable of moving back upstream out of GIP.  These latter fish would be susceptible to entrainment into the intakes or to passage over the falls.

Mature gamefish with maximum sustainable swimming speeds above ambient GIP currents and that would more likely be “cruising” within the GIP, may be likely to come in contact with the intakes and the power flow as a result of this behavior.  Their ability to avoid entrainment is dependent on their ability to perceive the acceleration in velocity and their swimming capability to avoid the power flow when their maximum sustainable swimming speed is approached (i.e., when they can only maintain position).  The maximum sustainable swimming speeds of four Niagara River species (Pope undated) are as follows:

·         northern pike     2.3 fps

·         walleye             3.3 fps

·         white sucker     3.3 fps

·         rainbow trout     4.3 fps

If these species did not respond to the acceleration in velocity until they could only maintain position in the flow, they would be relatively close to the intakes.  Although burst speeds of some of these species are relatively high, they can be maintained for only short duration (generally less than 10 seconds), likely not enough time to escape the power flow if they have approached too close.  Consequently, if larger, stronger swimming fish do not detect and respond to the change in velocity well before they approach their maximum sustainable swimming speed, they would be susceptible to entrainment.

Once fish have been entrained into the conduits, they are transported to the forebay where they may eventually be entrained through the turbines of RMNPP, most likely during the day, or through the pump turbines of LPGP at night.  Assuming there are no species dependent differences between entrainment at the two facilities and that there are not substantial differences among species mortality rates during pumping at LPGP, the composition of fish in the reservoir should be a reflection of those species most frequently entrained from the upper Niagara River.  Table 4.2.1-2 compares data of catches in the upper Niagara River in May, July and September 2001 with those in the Lewiston Reservoir in May, July and October 2000.  The comparison is made between adult fish from the river and juvenile and adult fish from the reservoir.  Although electrofishing for YOY and small forage fish was conducted in both areas, the depth of the reservoir made collection of YOY and forage fish by electrofishing less effective.  Small forage fish (including minnows, darters, sculpins, etc.) comprised about 95% of catches in the upper Niagara River and only 16% in the reservoir catches.  The under representation of small forage fish in the reservoir sampling may be due to the difficulty of catching these species by electrofishing in the reservoir, diurnal differences in entrainment rates for these species (water is pumped into the reservoir mostly during the night) or the likelihood that small fish find cover in low velocity habitats upstream of the GIP and do not frequently come in contact with the power flow.

This comparison of percent composition, excluding small forage fish (Table 4.2.1-3) indicates that some species are more common in the reservoir than would be expected if the intakes sampled fish at random from the upper river.  Using a criterion of a greater than 5% difference in the contribution of a particular species in the reservoir compared to the upper river, the species that may be more susceptible to entrainment include:

·         yellow perch

·         northern pike, and

·         smallmouth bass.

These fish are normally associated with cover and would have difficulty maintaining position in the water column in the ambient GIP currents.  The relatively high proportion of smallmouth bass, northern pike and yellow perch in the reservoir suggests that there may be some structural habitat upstream of the intakes from which they stray and are entrained into the power flow.  Yellow perch are known to make large movements associated with spawning in the spring (Scott and Crossman 1979), and smallmouth bass have pronounced nocturnal behavior that would make them more susceptible to entrainment during pumping at LPGP, which occurs primarily at night.

Entrainment of large numbers of yellow perch may be related to spring spawning runs as the number of yellow perch collected in the reservoir was highest in the spring (Tables 3.2-1 and 3.2-2).  However, at the Huntley Plant (Sartor Associates 1977), although yellow perch were more commonly impinged in the spring and summer, the data does not suggest that impingement of yellow perch at that plant was associated with spring spawning migrations.

Another potential reason for relatively high numbers of these species in the reservoir is that these species are more likely to be entrained through LPGP or that they suffer less mortality during pumping than other species.  However, there are no plausible reasons that these species would be more susceptible to entrainment at LPGP and the literature suggests that fish length is a far more important factor in determining the rate of turbine mortality than fish species.

Rainbow trout and white bass, although relatively uncommon in the reservoir (approximately 1%) were absent from the catches in the upper river and may also be susceptible to entrainment.

Conversely, the species composition of the reservoir suggests that some species have low susceptibility to entrainment due to their absence or relatively low abundance in the reservoir.  The species whose contribution to the catch in the upper Niagara River that was greater than 5% of the difference in contribution to the reservoir include:

·         brown bullhead,

·         pumpkinseed,

·         white sucker, and

·         largemouth bass.

In addition, white crappie, bluegill and goldfish comprised 1 to 4% of the catch in the river but were not collected in the reservoir.  Most of these species are benthic or relatively sedentary and would not often come in contact with the intakes.

Generally, the results of this comparison are consistent with the theories presented earlier in this section.  One theory held that relatively strong swimming fish, such as rainbow trout, are more likely to be active in the GIP and susceptible to entrainment.  They may approach closer to the intakes before the currents exceed their maximum sustainable swimming speed, and then have less opportunity for an avoidance response.  The second was that benthic or sedentary fish, such as white sucker and many of the centrarchids, are more likely to have found cover upstream of the GIP and are thus less susceptible to entrainment. 

4.2.2        Niagara Falls

As discussed in the previous section, the currents in the GIP are such that only larger, strong swimming fish or fish strongly associated with the bottom are resident or can enter and leave the GIP.  Poorer swimming or smaller non-benthic fish species (e.g., <7 inches) that enter the GIP north of Navy and Grand Islands likely cannot swim back upstream.  These fish would be susceptible to entrainment in the NPP intakes, the Sir Adam Beck (SAB) intakes or the SAB Power Canal at Chippawa.  Small, weakly swimming fish entering the GIP from the Chippawa channel are likely more susceptible to entrainment by the SAB intakes and/or passage over the Horseshoe Falls, while those fish entering the GIP from the Tonawanda channel are likely more susceptible to entrainment by the NPP intakes and/or passage over the American Falls.  Larger, strong swimming fish (e.g., sport fish) can likely maintain their position in the GIP and swim upstream in the river and would be less susceptible to passage over the falls.

There are some refugia available for fish entrained in the flow over the falls or through the various power conduits (i.e., NPP and SAB).  These include, immediately upstream and downstream of closed gates at the Niagara River Control Structure (NRCS), Dufferin Islands on the Canadian side of the river (fish must go through the control gates at the end of the SAB ice acceleration channel), Lyon’s Creek on the Welland River east of the SAB Power Canal and the Welland River west of the SAB Power Canal.  These refugia, however, would not likely be readily available to fish located on the east side of the river or in the approach channel of the American Falls, since these fish would require lateral movement across at least half the river (about 0.5 miles) to reach the refugia.  The approach channel of the American Falls, where most fish on the east side of the river would likely be entrained, provides little or no refuge other than limited low-velocity pockets in the rapids, particularly during the tourist season when higher flows pass down this channel (see photos at end of the report).

Stronger swimming fish may also be carried in the currents of the falls flow downstream of the NRCS or in the approach channels to the falls on both sides of Goat Island.  Rainbow trout (steelhead) may be able to maintain their position downstream of the NRCS, as they are often caught by shore anglers immediately downstream of the NRCS and in the Horseshoe Falls approach channel near the outflow of Dufferin Islands in the spring and fall (G.T. Haymes, Acres International, Ltd., personal observation 2003).

 

Table 4.2.1-1

Estimated Flow Velocities at the NPP Intake Portals Under Different Flow Conditions

 

Average

Maximum

Minimum

River Flow

212,300 cfs

277,900 cfs

152,600 cfs

Power Flow

 

 

 

Tourist1

112,300 cfs

177,900 cfs

52,600 cfs

Non-Tourist1

162,300 cfs

227,900 cfs

102,600 cfs

Flow Through Each Intake2

 

 

 

Tourist

28,075 cfs

44,475 cfs

13,150 cfs

Non-Tourist

40,575 cfs

55,000 cfs4

25,650 cfs

Average Velocity at Intake3

 

 

 

Tourist

5.9 ft/s

9.4 ft/s

2.8 ft/s

Non-Tourist

8.5 ft/s

11.6 ft/s

5.4 ft/s

Notes:

1.       Tourist (scenic) flows are 100,000 cfs over the falls 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. April 1 – September 15 and 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. September 16 – October 31; non-tourist flows of 50,000 cfs the rest of the time.

2.       Assumes 50-50 split between NYPA and OPG and equal distribution of flow between the two NPP intakes.

3.       Based on calculated open area of 4,754.4 ft2 for each NPP intake.

4.       Maximum design capacity of each conduit.

 

Table 4.2.1-2

Comparison of the Fish Collections in the Upper Niagara River (Adults) and Lewiston Reservoir (Adults and Juveniles)

Common Name

Upper Niagara River1

Lewiston Reservoir2

No.

%

No.

%

Longnose Gar

1

0.0

 

 

Bowfin

2

0.0

 

 

American Eel

 

 

1

0.1

Alewife

1

0.0

8

0.8

Gizzard Shad

2

0.0

 

 

Goldfish

65

0.2

 

 

Spotfin Shiner

6

0.0

 

 

Carp

95

0.3

65

6.2

Common Shiner

1241

3.3

12

1.1

Hornyhead Chub

17

0.0

 

 

Golden Shiner

369

1.0

1

0.1

Emerald Shiner

29286

77.9

53

5.1

Blackchin Shiner

15

0.0

 

 

Spottail Shiner

3475

9.2

21

2.0

Shiners

10

0.0

 

 

Bluntnose Minnow

885

2.4

1

0.1

Minnow

1

0.0

 

 

Rudd

3

0.0

 

 

Creek Chub

8

0.0

 

 

Quillback

1

0.0

1

0.1

White Sucker

196

0.5

14

1.3

Sucker

1

0.0

 

 

Northern Hog Sucker

1

0.0

 

 

Silver Redhorse

22

0.1

2

0.2

Shorthead Redhorse

23

0.1

8

0.8

Greater Redhorse

3

0.0

2

0.2

Brown Bullhead

269

0.7

1

0.1

Channel Catfish

 

 

1

0.1

Tadpole Madtom

5

0.0

 

 

Brindled Madtom

1

0.0

 

 

Northern Pike

29

0.1

1

0.1

Muskellunge

3

0.0

1

0.1

Central Mudminnow

10

0.0

 

 

Rainbow Smelt

3

0.0

9

0.9


Table 4.2.1-2 (CONT.)

Comparison of the Fish COLLECTIONS in the Upper Niagara River (Adults) and Lewiston Reservoir (Adults and Juveniles)

Common Name

Upper Niagara River1

Lewiston Reservoir2

No.

%

No.

%

Rainbow Trout

 

 

9

0.9

Brook Silverside

252

0.7

 

 

Banded Killifish

123

0.3

 

 

Brook Stickleback

13

0.0

 

 

Mottled Sculpin

5

0.0

 

 

White Perch

1

0.0

 

 

White Bass

 

 

7

0.7

Rock Bass

500

1.3

278

26.5

Pumpkinseed

209

0.6

12

1.1

Bluegill

55

0.1

 

 

Smallmouth Bass

22

0.1

57

5.4

Largemouth Bass

136

0.4

2

0.2

Bass

2

0.0

 

 

White Crappie

20

0.1

 

 

Black Crappie

35

0.1

4

0.4

Iowa Darter

39

0.1

 

 

Johnny Darter

71

0.2

45

4.3

Yellow Perch

28

0.1

311

29.7

Logperch

16

0.0

23

2.2

Pike

1

0.0

 

 

Freshwater Drum

6

0.0

9

0.9

Unidentified

1

0.0

 

 

Total

37585

100.0

1049

100.0

Notes:  From Environnement Illimité, Inc. (2001) and Kleinschmidt Associates (2002).

1Gear utilized included backpack and boat-mounted electrofishing, fyke and trap nets, and SCUBA diver observations.

2Gear utilized included boat-mounted electrofishing, fyke and trap nets, and an otter trawl.

 

Table 4.2.1-3

Comparison of the Fish Collections in the Upper Niagara River (Adults) and Lewiston Reservoir (Adults and Juveniles)

Common Name

Upper Niagara River

Lewiston Reservoir

No.

%

No.

%

Longnose Gar

1

0.1

 

 

Bowfin

2

0.1

 

 

American Eel

 

 

1

0.1

Alewife

1

0.1

8

0.9

Gizzard Shad

2

0.1

 

 

Goldfish

65

3.7

 

 

Carp

95

5.5

65

7.3

Rudd

3

0.2

 

 

Quillback

1

0.1

1

0.1

White Sucker

196

11.2

14

1.6

Northern Hog Sucker

1

0.1

 

 

Sucker

1

0.1

 

 

Silver Redhorse

22

1.3

2

0.2

Shorthead Redhorse

23

1.3

8

0.9

Greater Redhorse

3

0.2

2

0.2

Brown Bullhead

269

15.4

1

0.1

Channel Catfish

 

 

1

0.1

Tadpole Madtom

5

0.3

 

 

Brindled Madtom

1

0.1

 

 

Northern Pike

29

1.7

91

10.2

Muskellunge

3

0.2

1

0.1

Pike

1

0.1

 

 

Rainbow Smelt

3

0.2

9

1.0

Rainbow Trout

 

 

9

1.0

White Perch

1

0.1

 

 

White Bass

 

 

7

0.8

Rock Bass

500

28.7