Whooshh Innovations’ Passage Portal at Big Bar Wins 2021 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Award
Fast-Acting and Adaptable Tech Led to Protecting Thousands of Salmon
Washington, D.C. (October 21, 2021) – The National Hydropower Association (NHA) today announced Whooshh Innovations’ Passage Portal at Big Bar received the 2021 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters (OSAW) Award in the category of Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement.
The category of Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement recognizes hydropower projects that provide enhanced recreational opportunities for the general public, offer measurable benefits that mitigate, conserve, preserve, or enhance the natural resources, or conserve historical aspects of hydropower facilities and their integration with the surrounding community.
In 2020, the Canadian government enlisted the help of Seattle-based Whooshh Innovations to work at a remote site where there had been a very large rockslide which formed a natural dam across the entire Fraser River which blocked salmon passage at a point called Big Bar near Lillooet, British Columbia.
Fraser River is one of the most significant waterways in the world for migratory chinook and sockeye salmon. They are an important part of the ecosystems in both Canadian and U.S. waters and are valued by many stakeholders including Native Americans and First Nations groups in both countries.
Whooshh was able to deploy two of its new Passage Portal™ systems in less than 3 months and began safely aiding thousands of salmon over the barrier to continue their migratory journey despite being in a remote location with no roads, power or connectivity. Whooshh’s innovative and adaptive technology allowed for many more salmon to make it up the river to their spawning habitat than would have been possible if the Department of Fisheries & Oceans of Canada (DFO) continued to trap and transport the salmon with helicopters.
“NHA is thrilled to present Whooshh Innovations with the OSAW Award for Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement,” said LeRoy Coleman, Director of Communications, NHA. “Whooshh Innovations’ coordination with stakeholders is commendable as they were able to work quickly and effectively with the looming deadline of salmon needing to travel upriver. Whooshh has proven to be an outstanding steward of the waterway by safely transporting thousands of salmon.”
“This massive project on the Fraser River, one of the most productive salmon rivers in the world, was a thrill for the entire team. We were able to deploy our modular and flexible Whooshh Passage Portal™ in one of the most difficult environments imaginable,” said Vincent Bryan III,” Whooshh Innovations CEO. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the First Nations Tribes all worked hard to remove regulatory and political barriers, recognizing all the fish passage studies and work we have done over the years to de-risk fish passage deployments. They are to be commended for using our state-of-the-art technology and working together with us to provide safe passage to thousands of fish in just three-month’s time. We share this OSAW award with them and everyone up at Big Bar who took on this challenge during a global pandemic. Thank you NHA for the recognition.”
Using its systems normally designed for passing fish safely over hydropower dams, Whooshh leveraged a total of 3,000+ feet of misted tubing hung from the face of the remaining rock cliff, rather than the more typical application of attaching to stanchions leading over a dam. Whooshh also employed its fish scanning and imaging systems during this project which allowed DFO field biologists to retain data on 17x the number of fish than they would have without Whooshh’s technology.
About the Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Awards
In 1994, the National Hydropower Association (NHA) created the Hydro Achievement Awards to recognize organizations and projects committed to excellence in the development and operation of hydropower. In 1999, NHA added the Outstanding Stewardship of America’s Rivers (OSAR) Report to profile the best examples of hydropower’s ability to generate clean, renewable, reliable and affordable electricity while protecting the riverine ecosystem. Beginning in 2007, these two recognition programs were merged to more effectively provide recognition to deserving organizations and to reflect the changing nature of the hydropower industry, particularly the fact that hydropower can be used in various waterways. The new award program is called the Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters (OSAW).
OSAW Awards are given out in three distinct categories:
- Operational Excellence: projects that add value to the hydropower industry through technical contributions, innovation, engineering, upgrades and improvements or technology breakthroughs for new hydropower technologies
- Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement: projects that provide enhanced recreational opportunities for the general public, offer measurable benefits that mitigate, conserve, preserve, or enhance the natural resources, or conserve historical aspects of hydropower facilities and their integration with the surrounding community.
- Public Education: programs that effectively communicate and promote the benefits of hydropower through mediums such as curriculum, learning centers, videos or outreach programs.
NHA invites you to learn more about these outstanding endeavors, both past and present, at www.hydro.org/osaw.