Five companies were recognized this week by the National Hydropower Association during its annual Waterpower Week in Washington conference for work in hydroelectric power that exemplifies “extraordinary recreational, historical, environmental or educational value.”
The Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters (OSAW) Awards are presented annually in three categories.
Recognized in OSAW’s Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement category were:
Tacoma Power was honored for using new technology to return salmon populations to the North Fork Skokomish River at the Cushman hydropower plant in Washington via a new floating fish collector. The system pumps water to screen off fish, with surface-to-floor nets used to guide smolts toward the collector, preventing them from reaching the powerhouse’s turbines.
Duke Energy was recognized for developing the Pines Recreation Area and High Falls Trail as part of its West Fork project, giving visitors access to a hiking and whitewater boating. The initiative also included construction of an access trail, fishing pier, picnic facilities, and educational and historical signage. The enhancements also saw the creation of a swim beach, completed with a first-ever design that uses concrete cloth material and rock-filled wire gabion baskets.
The Avista Corporation transformed a parking lot into the Spokane Tribal Gathering Place, which connects the City of Spokane’s Riverfront Park to Huntington Park and allows public access to the Spokane River Lower Falls for the first time in a century. The Spokane Tribal Gathering Place allows visitors to experience interpretive signs, sculptures and artifacts that depict the area’s Native American, European American and hydroelectric histry en route to the Lower Falls.
Recognized in OSAW’s Operational Excellence category was:
Ocean Renewable Power Company
Ocean Renewable Power Company was honored for its successful deployment of the RivGen Power System, which is a submersible hydrokinetic system designed for river and shallow tidal applications. The project supplies about a third of the power used by the remote Alaskan village Igiugug, demonstrating the commercial viability of marine energy technology in rural applications.
Recognized in OSAW’s Public Education category was:
Grant County Public Utility District
Grant County PUD created a video “tour” of its Wanapum Dam that educates the public on the value of hydropower. The project serves as the capstone of the utility’s new fish and hydro interpretive center, explaining how Wanapum provides energy to customers in the Pacific Northwest.
“The hydropower industry takes pride in good water stewardship, and this year’s OSAW winners demonstrated their commitment to sustainability, the environment and improving the communities they serve,” said NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci. “From creating recreational opportunities, to powering remote villages, these projects are a good example of the value that hydropower brings to local communities.”
The OSAW awards trace their roots to 1994, when NHA established its Hydro Achievement Awards program. NHA added the Outstanding Stewardship of America’s Rivers (OSAR) Report in 1999 before combining the two recognition programs under the OSAW banner in 2007.
More information about past OSAW winners can be found on the NHA’s website here.