Posted - 27 November 2017

Smart monitoring helps return salmon to the River Garry after 60 years

Data from the Hydro-Logic® Services team helped SEPA, SSE and the Tay District Salmon Fishery Board to rejuvenate the River Garry.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has reported that water and salmon have been returned to the River Garry in Perthshire after 60 years thanks to a partnership between SEPA, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and the Tay District Salmon Fishery Board—with Hydro-Logic® Services as a key contributor.

The Tummel hydropower project had made the River Garry one of the most abstracted in Scotland, with one ten-mile stretch having been dry since the mid-1950s, and campaign groups had been pushing to re-water the river. This project sees a balance struck between environmental preservation and abstraction for renewable energy generation. 

The Hydro-Logic® Services field hydrometry team has been involved with the project since 2013, in addition to an existing framework contract with SSE, providing hydrometric data to help negotiate a compensation flow to re-water the river downstream of the hydropower intake. This re-watering will enhance the view of the river aesthetically, as well as providing suitable flows to encourage fish to migrate upstream for the first time in decades.

Led by Peter Horne, the team installed three permanent Smart Monitoring stations on the river—near Calvine, Dalnamein and Dalnacardoch—as well as setting up a monitoring station on the river's tributaries. Over the last five years Hydro-Logic® Services hydrometric experts Allan Whtye and Paul McGuigan have also implemented a number of temporary monitoring sites at major SSE intakes on the Garry and its tributaries.

Over the course of the project the team captured ongoing water level data at each site, and made numerous visits to the sites to capture a range of additional flow measurements, using current meters to derive a stage discharge relationship. This relationship was then used to derive a flow record at each monitoring station. As part of the project the team has also been involved with flow trials at the River Garry hydropower intake.

During the trial SEPA worked to investigate the hydrology and ecological factors downstream to help determine what would be the minimum beneficial flows to put back down the Garry.

I'm pleased that we've been able to help SEPA and SSE to successfully rewater this river in a way that preserves the hydropower capability," said Peter Horne, Regional Head of Hydrometry, Scotland, "One of the big benefits of using up-to-date hydrometric data collected in the field—rather than models or historical data—is that the decisions you make are based on real-world factors. This provides greater confidence that solutions are both realistic and enduring. So not only will we see salmon in the River Garry again for the first time in decades, but the river will also continue to generate renewable energy in an environmentally sustainable way.

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