This left Clearwater Hatchery in short water supply. In order to save their 2011 brood of Spring Chinook, 2.5 million fish, Clearwater needed to find some water. Since Dworshak Fish Hatchery is right across the river from Clearwater it was the logical place to look.
Both hatcheries can share reservoir water, but most of Dworshak’s water comes from the North Fork Clearwater River, about a mile below the Dam. The river water comes with its share of problems- the biggest is IHNV, a virus that can be deadly to steelhead. This is why Clearwater Hatchery uses disease free reservoir water as its sole water source. Pumping river water to Clearwater Hatchery was not an option, but moving their fish to Dworshak was.
Planning and preparing for the fish move was tough and took a lot of teamwork. With help from the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Lower Snake River Compensation Program, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers, we were able to prepare 25 Burrow’s ponds, improve our waste water system to accommodate the additional fish, modify our drain lines to handle the additional water use and move 2.5 million juvenile Spring Chinook from the Clearwater Hatchery to Dworshak in less than two weeks.
This week the Chinook smolts are being trucked off-station for release as they begin their long migration downriver to the ocean. Mark Drobish, Hatchery Manager at Dworshak Fish Hatchery said, “It’s all about rearing healthy fish at our hatcheries and this effort was truly one of team spirit, quick action and cooperation between state, federal, and tribal agencies to take a crisis and turn it into a success story.