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U.S. Department of the Interior
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New Model for Spawning, Incubation, and Nursery Operations

Dworshak National Fish Hatchery, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho

Point of Contact

Jack Christiansen
(208) 476-4591


Dworshak National Fish Hatchery (NFH) staff identified and implemented infrastructure improvements and operational flexibility, which allowed the Hatchery to save an average of 8,621,000 kWh per year in FY 2011 and FY 2012, when compared to FY 2010.  Over 6,000,000 kWh per year were saved through an in-house strategic planning exercise that identified and improved energy inefficient operational methods. Dworshak NFH staff developed a new model for spawning, incubation and nursery operations that allowed the hatchery to significantly reduce the operation of electric boilers. The hatchery partnered with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), who provided $600,000, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who provided engineering support to implement the improvements.


In FY 2010, hatchery staff identified projects to reduce energy consumption at the hatchery while improving infrastructure and operational flexibility. A proposal outlining subsequent energy reductions and capital cost requirements was submitted to BPA in June 2011.
The Hatchery efforts represented the largest energy savings project for BPA's energy efficiency program in FY 2011, and provided motivation for staff from both agencies to work closely to identify funding sources and quickly procure equipment and labor.  Staff at BPA successfully identified and transferred over $600,000 to the Hatchery for the requested projects.  All project identification, scope development, engineering, procurement, and installation of all components with the exception of the new nursery pipeline was accomplished by a collective effort of the Hatchery staff.  The new nursery pipeline was installed within the short time allowed in the funding program.  Energy efficiency projects performed at the Hatchery in FY 2011 include:
Incubation and Nursery Expansion and Operational Modifications.
Because the Hatchery had a limited number of vertical incubator stacks available, influent temperatures had to be increased so that the incubators could be used multiple times during a single season, which resulted in a huge electrical demand on the Hatchery boiler system.  An in¬house operational program review by Hatchery staff identified that a different temperature profile could be used advantageously throughout incubation and the nursery rearing phase from both a fish culture and energy efficiency perspective if the Hatchery could procure and install 58 new double-stacks of vertical incubators.  The cost of the incubators was approximately $130,000 plus the plumbing modifications necessary to support the installation.  Hatchery staff installed all plumbing components and all of the new incubators. As a result of these efforts, the electrical demand on the boiler system has been reduced by over 5,500,000 kWh/year. This represents a payback period of less than six months.

Replacement of Nursery Water Pipeline and Modifications to Original Infrastructure The result of the piping being undersized by design and corrosion was an almost three-fold increase in the energy necessary to deliver water.  A new High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pipe was installed.  The reduction in energy demand for these efforts is approximately 700,000 kWh/year.
Installation of Variable Frequency Drives.
Pumping costs were reduced by the installation of three variable frequency drives (VFD's) on existing hatchery pumps to reduce electrical demand when the full output of the pump was not required.  The first installation alone saved almost 700,000 kWh/year and had a payback period of approximately six months.
Internal and External Partnering.
To complete the project, over $600,000 was needed to complete all identified projects within the request, just under $500,000 was remaining in the BPA budget for funding of new incentives.  In cooperation with BPA, an additional $151,000 was identified that could be applied to the Hatchery's request, thereby, making up the entire budget shortfall.

It is important to note that the Hatchery was established as a mitigation facility to offset impact to anadromous fish migration from construction of the Dworshak Dam. The hatchery receives all of its electricity from this dam located immediately upstream on the North Fork of the Clearwater River. Any energy savings created at the Hatchery provides opportunity to expand the use of this clean hydroelectric power at other locations. While the Hatchery does not receive a utility bill for its electrical consumption under this agreement, any energy utilized by the hatchery is unavailable for distribution by BPA. All energy savings by the hatchery, therefore, results in a direct cost-avoidance to BPA, which is calculated at the rate of $0.05/kWh. The projects completed in FY 2011 resulted in an average direct cost-avoidance for BPA of $431,000 in both 2011 and 2012, thereby paying back the entire cost of the projects in just under 17 months.

Results and Achievements

Electrical consumption at the Hatchery was decreased by an average of 8,621,000 kWh/year in 2011 and 2012 over hatchery electrical consumption levels in 2010.  In addition, Hatchery staff has decreased electrical consumption by 19,000,000 kWh/year since 2006.  These savings were achieved through a combination of operational and infrastructure modifications.
From December 2010 to August 2012, all energy savings were a result of energy efficiency projects and hatchery operational modifications.  In August of2012, 2.5 million Chinook were moved from the Clearwater Hatchery to the Dworshak Hatchery as a result of the pipeline breaking.  The cost/pound of fish produced at Dworshak was further reduced from 9.3 to 8 kWh/pound/month - and it is anticipated that less than 8 kWh/pound/month will be achieved in the near future.  The cost of production per pound of fish produced at the Hatchery was reduced by more than 16%.


The most replicable characteristic of this program is the partnering with electrical utilities to reduce operating costs for both organizations.  The level of cooperation, coupled with the interest of both parties in lowering costs while providing an increased environmental benefit serves as a model for seeking such partnerships that were unimagined only a few years ago.
Additionally, the innovations described in this project are directly applicable to other fish hatcheries nationwide, both federal and state-operated.  The benefits include lower operating costs and a significant decrease in the energy required to produce fish, providing a benefit to the American public.