Fish traveling through the Ballard Locks to Puget Sound are getting a little help.
This week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reinstalling the four flumes to help juvenile salmon and steelhead move through quickly and safely through the Locks. When fish pass through the flumes an electronic reader will count the fish that have already been tagged. This information will help the Corps better understand how fish pass through the Locks, including migration timing.
Studies in the 1990s showed that young salmon passing through the Locks from Lake Washington to Puget Sound had a difficult journey. Salmon were pulled into the filling culverts for the large locks, where some are injured or killed. Other salmon had a difficult time getting over the spillway near the fish ladder.
Fish passage at the Locks is key to salmon survival in the Lake Washington watershed, with every salmon and steelhead in Lake Washington going in and out through this route. Because of its importance, local, state and federal agencies, local governments and the Muckleshoot Tribe joined together to improve fish passage at the Locks.
The flumes are part of an overall project to improve fish passage, including:
o seasonal installation of smolt passage slides in two spillway gates to help smolts safely out to sea
o controlled large lock fills to reduce the force that pulls smolts into the filling culverts
o measures to prevent adult salmon access to the diffuser well
o valuable tool to ongoing studies by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and King County