Kleinschmidt Designs First-Ever Lake Sturgeon Fish Lift in United States

The Menominee Fish Lift System for Lake Sturgeon Passage uniquely applies proven fish lift technology to develop a first-of-its-kind passage for the threatened lake sturgeon population in the Menominee River, which borders Michigan and Wisconsin and flows into Lake Michigan. Kleinschmidt provided the conceptual design, agency consultation, final design, and construction support for the fish lift, which is located inside the Menominee powerhouse. This innovative and efficient solution produced an effective means of upstream passage for sturgeon for less than half the cost of traditional lake sturgeon passage designs, minimized disruption of hydropower generation, and exceeded goals set by state and federal agencies for fish passage during the spring migration.

As consulting engineer during a multiphase river conservation project, Kleinschmidt collaborated with the hydro owner and resource agencies to develop design criteria and determine the most effective location and layout for the fish lift and ancillary equipment to provide sturgeon passage to optimal spawning and rearing habitat upstream on the river. The design avoided foundation stability issues and eliminated the need for costly cofferdams during construction. A repurposed turbine bay in the Menominee powerhouse became the entry to the fish lift, which consists of a concrete channel that allows fish to swim into a collection area. Once fish are inside the collection area, a trapping screen lowers, and a steel hopper rises. The fish are discharged from the hopper into a sorting tank located on the first floor of the powerhouse, where undesired species are returned downstream and lake sturgeon are transferred to a holding tank to be transported to desirable habitats upstream of the Menominee and Park Mill dams.  The fish lift successfully collected and passed the targeted number of lake sturgeon identified by the resource agencies in less than a week during the sturgeon migration this past spring. The effectiveness of Kleinschmidt’s innovation is likely to ensure its adoption at the three remaining hydropower facilities located upstream within the sturgeon migratory corridor in the Menominee River during future phases of the conservation project.

For more information about this project, please contact Lucas Stiles (phone: 207-416-1293; email: Lucas.Stiles@KleinschmidtGroup.com). Kleinschmidt focuses on the needs of hydroelectric and water resources infrastructure clients throughout North America. Kleinschmidt’s expertise in engineering, regulatory, scientific, and planning disciplines provides an integrated, multidisciplinary platform that allows us to develop appropriate solutions to meet clients' needs ranging from straightforward tasks to complex projects.