The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office created the HydroPASSAGE project to provide information and tools to increase fish survival through turbines and other hydropower structures across the nation and around the world.


The HydroPASSAGE project is a research and development collaboration between engineers and biologists from DOE's Pacific Northwest and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. HydroPASSAGE addresses hydropower challenges, which include efforts to improve environmental performance of hydropower, including the development of technologies and strategies that avoid, minimize, mitigate, and manage environmental effects.

PNNL tools help gather biological data

HydroPASSAGE provides advanced toolsets for evaluating the impacts of different hydropower turbine designs and operation schemes for fish species of concern. HydroPASSAGE tools and technologies improve fish passage, which is critical to supporting the development of new and refurbished hydropower facilities.

Part of the HydroPASSAGE project is to research and develop biological response models. These models simulate how fish are likely to respond when exposed to hydraulic and physical stressors associated with turbines and other hydropower structures.

Researchers on the project offer tools and information, including PNNL’s Biological Performance Assessment and the Hydropower Biological Evaluation Toolset. The Hydropower Biological Evaluation Toolset is used with PNNL’s Sensor Fish package—a small, autonomous device used in the field or laboratory to gather information on what real fish experience during downstream passage.

HydroPASSAGE toolsets are currently being used during the decision-making process when developing new turbines, refurbishing old turbines, or designing new structures at existing plants to improve fish survival.