Tech Briefs

Fish and Wildlife Service uses GPS to aid lamprey passage

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has created a project, using a wood carving of a Pacific lamprey, to raise awareness about the importance of these fish to the region and the challenges they face migrating past dams.

These wood carvings, known as Travel Bugs, were planted in the river and are intended to make their way downstream with the help of geocachers. Geocaching is a technological take on orienteering in which participants use a GPS device to locate hidden containers (geocaches or caches) and fixed objects (waypoints). The bug wears a tag with a code that can be scanned via a cell phone. The code takes users to a website about lamprey and information about where these wooden fish are trying to go.

Pacific lamprey are culturally and ecologically vital, FWS says, and they are a powerful indicator of watershed health. For the first three to seven years, lamprey larvae burrow into river bottoms and filter feed. They then migrate to the ocean as adults and return to freshwater to spawn at 10 or 11 years old, according to lamprey researchers from the Yakima Nation.

The researchers launched four wooden fish in early August by placing them in geocaches and updating their location to the website. The caches were located near Orifino, Idaho; Toppenish, Wash.; Ilwaco, Wash.; and Portland. All four Travel Bugs have specific missions to follow upriver or downriver virtual journeys, FWS says.

ASCE names The Dalles Dam an historical landmark

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently dedicated The Dallas Dam as an ASCE National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. A plaque was placed at the facility in July.

The Dalles Dam highlights the benefits that a multipurpose dam of this scope can have on the regional and national economies. When it was constructed in the 1950s, no other dam in the U.S. possessed such multipurpose functionality, according to WEST Consultants, whose President Jeff Bradley chairs the Environmental and Water Resources Institute History and Heritage Committee of ASCE. The Dalles Dam is more than 1.5 miles long, with an L shape taking advantage of the underlying soil and rock configuration. The design and construction of The Dalles Dam served as a model for dam construction for decades to come.

Today, The Dalles Dam, on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, is the sixth largest hydropower project in the U.S., with a generating capacity of 1,780 MW. It is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Companies named to ENR Top 200 Environmental Firms list

Several companies that do work in the hydropower market were included in Engineering News-Record‘s Top 200 Environmental Firms list. Companies are ranked based on revenue. Top hydro-related firms make the list, and their ranking last year, are below:

1: CH2M Hill Ltd., Englewood, Colo. (1)
2: URS Corp., New York (2)
4: Bechtel Corp., San Francisco, Calif. (4)
5: Tetra Tech Inc., Pasadena, Calif. (4)
8: AECOM Technology Corp., New York (7)
9: MWH Global, Broomfield, Colo. (8)
10: Golder Associates Corp., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada (9)
11: Black & Veatch, Overland Park, Kan.
13: ARCADIS U.S. Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo. (11)
17: CDM Smith, Cambridge, Mass. (16)
18: Environmental Resources Management, London, England (17)
19: HDR, Omaha, Neb. (19)
20: Stantec Inc., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (22)

For a complete list of Top Environmental Firms, visit

ABB offers NERC CIP Version 5 webinar series

Power and automation technology company ABB is offering a free eight-part educational webinar series to help utilities with upcoming preparation, planning and submissions for mandatory compliance with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Version 5 standards.

Utility personnel in the U.S. and Canada must identify their bulk power systems and execute compliance programs to meet these standards by April 1, 2016. Version 5 adopts new cybersecurity controls and vastly extends the scope of the systems that the CIP standards protect, ABB says.

The webinar series is intended to address today’s utility challenges with CIP Version 5 compliance in both physical and cyber security and discuss the new requirements for CIP-014 Physical Risk Assessments. Participants will gain an understanding that will help classify their BES Cyber Security System Impact levels, understand risk assessment for substations, and learn best practices in cyber security and malicious software controls, the company says.

The eight one-hour webinars in this series are held at Eastern time:

  • Held in September: Cyber system categorization (power generation specific)
  • Held in October: NERC CIP Version 5 transition, Change management, Baseline management, Cyber asset grouping (power generation specific), Access management and malicious software controls
  • Held in November: Low assets and future CIP versions (power generation specific), Nov. 5, 2 pm, and Identification and review of critical transmission assets, Nov. 12, 2 pm

For more information, visit

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