LIHI Certificate #71 - Dalles Dam North Fishway Project, Washington

Project Name Dalles Dam North Fishway
LIHI Certificate No. 71
LIHI Certificate Term
July 17, 2020 – July 16, 2030
Owner Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District
State Washington
Location Located at river mile 192 on the north shore of The Dalles Dam, technically in Washington State, on the Columbia River.
Installed Capacity 4.9 MW
Average Annual Generation 40,000 MWH
Facility Type conduit
FERC No. P-7076 issued in 1987, expires 11/30/2037

The Dalles Dam North Fishway Project is located on the Columbia River in Klickitat County, Washington. The fishway hydroelectric project is located on the north shore of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) The Dalles Dam. The Dalles Dam is a concrete-gravity, run-of-river dam which first started generating electricity via 14 turbine units in 1960. An additional 8 turbines were brought online in November of 1973. The fishway hydro project is a conduit facility of the larger dam that generates power with the auxiliary water supply for the fish ladder located on the north shore. The facility was first brought online in May of 1991. The main stem of the Columbia River supports 14 dams, 11 of which are in the United States (3 in Canada).

The project was built to utilize the USACE North fishway auxiliary water supply system (AWSS) to generate power. The purpose of the AWSS is to supplement the fish ladder’s operating flow of 70 cfs with additional flow to provide a total attraction flow of 800 cfs at the entrance to the ladder. The fishway hydro project is a component of the AWSS and does not independently regulate flow. Prior to the project’s construction, the supplemental flow dropped into a plunge pool and then discharged into the fish ladder entrance area, where it combined with the fish ladder operating flow. Water enters the AWSS after passing through a trashrack with 7/8-inch bar spacing to prevent the passage of larger fish and debris into the 150-foot-long intake structure. The structure contains a wall of stainless-steel wedge wire screen panels. The screens have 1/8-inch openings to exclude juvenile fish and admit only the water used for generation. The overall surface area of the screens is enough to limit the approach velocities and prevent impingement. A small amount of flow (10-12 cfs) containing the excluded fish discharges through an adjustable weir at the end of the building, dropping about six feet into a12-foot-deep concrete basin. Flows then enter a 16-inch-diameter, 1,200-foot-long pipe that conveys the fish to the fishway entrance area. A 10-foot diameter, 85-foot-long penstock carries generation flows from the intake structure to the powerhouse, which is situated adjacent to the lower end of the fishway. A period of fish sampling occurs annually to determine the performance of the fish bypass system. The success of the system is based on the condition of the fish sampled. Annual reports include sampling activities for that year and summaries of the previous year’s data. The result summaries of the fish sampling, both in quantity and quality of fish, directly relates to the performance of the bypass system, and provides data for improvements.

The project is a conduit facility contained wholly within the USACE-owned Dalles Dam. The project generates power via an 800 cfs flow through the pressurized conduit which delivers water for fish attraction at the entrance of the fish ladder. Any flows used for generation are returned to the AWSS to be discharged as attraction flow through a diffusion chamber for the fish ladder. Flow rates available to the project are determined by the fish ladder entrance weir differential criteria established by fisheries experts (see Fish Passage Plans).

Waters of the Columbia River in the Dalles Dam reach are designated as impaired for temperature, dissolved gas, dioxin, pH, bacteria exceedances, and dissolved oxygen. The project itself only utilizes 0.5% of total flow through the dam and does not impact water quality as a conduit facility.

Fish passage facilities at the Dalles Dam are utilized by anadromous species including sockeye, coho, chinook, steelhead, white sturgeon, chum, and Pacific lamprey. These species’ upstream migration is not impeded by the project and individuals are prevented from accessing the hydro conduit. Resident riverine species include crappie, bullhead, bluegill, yellow perch, sculpin, sucker, banded killifish, walleye, northern pikeminnow, mountain whitefish, bass, American shad, peamouth, and Siberian prawn. The aforementioned fish exclusion measures ensure that downstream migrating species are not entrained in the project facilities.

The project lands consist of roughly 5 acres. As it is located completely within USACE-owned lands, the project does not impact or have control over the shoreline in the area.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Snake River Fall chinook salmon, Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon, Snake River sockeye salmon, Upper Columbia River spring chinook salmon, Snake River sockeye salmon, Snake River steelhead, Upper Columbia River steelhead, bull trout, and Middle Columbia River steelhead. Measures implemented at the project in 2012 have drastically improved protection of juvenile species passing through the project. These measures are detailed above. Consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) resulted in these improvements and continued oversight from NMFS ensures project operations continue to protect these species.

During initial construction of the hydroelectric facility, a cultural resource evaluation was conducted by USACE which concluded that no significant cultural or historic resources were located in the project vicinity. This was confirmed via consultation with the State of Washington Department of Archaeology and Historical Preservation in 2010.

No recreational resources are located at the project as the facility is completely fenced in with no public access allowed. Recreational opportunities are available upstream and downstream of The Dalles Dam and are managed by USACE.

Compliance Status

There are no facility-specific conditions in the current Certificate.

2023: No material changes or compliance issues were identified. The project remains in compliance based on the annual review.

2022: No material changes or compliance issues were identified. The project remains in compliance based on the annual review.  The project reported voluntary construction of a replacement downstream juvenile fish sampling facility to be completed in the fall of 2022 with facilities associated with sampling the fish screen effectiveness to be upgraded. The project has coordinated with NMFS on the engineering, planning and construction of this project. Operation of the facility will begin at the onset of the 2023 sampling season (April).  Final agency approval will be sought at the conclusion of the 2023 sampling season (July).

2021: There were no reported changes or compliance issues.  The project remains in compliance based on the annual review.

2020: Annual reporting for the current Certificate has not yet taken effect.

Certification History

January 1, 2022: The LIHI Certificate term has been extended in accordance with Revision 2.05 of the LIHI 2nd Edition Certification Handbook issued January 1, 2022. Refer to the facility table above for the new term.

April 8, 2021: The decision to recertify the Dalles Dam North Fishway Project became final after the close of the appeals period on April 7, 2021 with no appeals filed. The Certification term is from July 17, 2020 – July 16, 2025.

March 8, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved recertification of the Dalles Dam North Fishway Project (LIHI #71) for a new 5-year term of Low Impact Certification. The Project is located on the Columbia River in Washington. This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the Project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted by email to with “Dalles Dam North Fishway Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington MA 02476. All requests will be posted to the website. The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on April 7, 2021. The full application and reviewer’s report are available below. If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project will be July 17, 2020 through July 16, 2025.

December 21, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact recertification of the Dalles Dam North Fishway Hydroelectric Project. The complete application can be found below. LIHI is seeking public comment on this application. Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered. Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at with “Dalles Fishway Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington MA 02476. Comments must be received on or before 5 pm Eastern time on February 19, 2021 to be considered. All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond. Any response will also be posted.

November 11, 2015: LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has certified that the Dalles Dam North Fishway Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. P-7076) continues to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. A Preliminary Decision was announced on November 12, 2015, and a 30-day appeal period was open through December 12, 2015. No requests for appeal were received. This Certification Decision includes one facility-specific condition, as follows:

  • Although the special condition that was required in the previous LIHI certification at the Dalles Dam North Fishway facility was satisfied, management of migratory salmonids in the Columbia River remains an on-going challenge for all interests along the river. Therefore, the facility owner shall notify LIHI within 30 days of any changes in the NOAA Biological Opinion or related actions necessary to protect threatened or endangered species at the facility. LIHI reserves the right to modify the facility’s certification as needed to ensure consistency with migratory fish protection requirements of the resource agencies.

The effective certification date for the Dalles Dam North Fishway Project is July 17, 2015 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on July 17, 2020.

September 30, 2015: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute received a complete application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Northshore Fishway Hydroelectric project on  September 1, 2015.  The application materials can be found in the Files section below.

April 21, 2011: The North Shore Fishway Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective July 17, 2010 and expiring July 17, 2015.

September 17, 2010: The public comment period on the application for certification has been closed.

July 17, 2010: The Northern Wasco County PUD has submitted an application for the certification of the North Shore Fishway Project. The public comment period will remain open for 60 days.

Certification Files

2020 Recertification

2015 Recertification

2010 Certification

Key Documents