A Visit to the Sixmile Farmers Screen

From Dan:

Dan Kleinsmith

Last month, while on a trip out to Missoula, I stopped by the Sixmile Creek Farmers Screen, which was installed in 2011. As project manager for FCA, I like to check on projects at least once a year. This diversion is just 10 minutes off the highway which makes it an easy side trip.

This year was the screen’s third full season of operation. I can always tell by the amount of vegetation growing around a screen if it’s had a successful year — trampled vegetation means lots of foot traffic, which means a lot of screen maintenance. As you can see here, the area around the screen looks kind of overgrown – that’s a good thing.

FCA's Farmers Screen installation on Sixmile Creek in Montana

FCA’s Farmers Screen installation on Sixmile Creek in Montana

I was also impressed by how well the screen is holding up to the elements. The screen material itself is stainless steel, but the body of the screen is a mild steel sheet metal. This project was installed on a very tight budget and, in an effort to save money, our client Trout Unlimited decided to forgo painting the screen. Over time, surface rust will develop so we’ve been monitoring the effects of not painting the screen on this installation. I was impressed to see that this year it really didn’t look any different from last year.

I didn’t take any flow measurements while on site like I usually do, but it looked to me like there was an adequate amount of screened water running for this late in the season. Sometimes, when a fish screen looks like it hasn’t been visited in a long time, it means bad things for how it’s actually being operated. Our first priority at FCA is to ensure that the Farmers Screen is the right screen technology for any diversion. I’ve seen too many fish screens that were poorly suited to conditions at their site, and then simply abandoned because water user gave up in frustration trying to keep up with maintenance. It’s great to see how well our site vetting process works. This is the happiest little screen in Montana!

Well … except for the two other FCA Farmers Screens in Montana!


Dan Kleinsmith

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A Very Icy Farmers Screen

We are so thrilled with this video sent to us by our client Bob LeBlanc at Crystal Lakes Fish Hatchery near Fortine, Montana. For the past week or so, the air temperature lows have been near -20 degrees below zero at the screen location, and the water temperature at around 35 degrees. There is a layer of surface ice in the screen flume, but water is still flowing well through the screen, over the weir wall, into the attenuation bay, and back to the return channel.

Learn more about the Deep Creek modular project here. Thanks again to Bob for the video!

On the Road

This just in from Roy:

FCA Sales Manager Roy Slayton

It was 7 days away from home, 1500 miles of highway, 2 conferences and countless conversations about the Farmers Screen.  It’s been a great couple of weeks for myself and Les Perkins.

We started by making the drive down to Bend, Oregon, for the Northwest Hydroelectric Association’s Small Hydropower Workshop. We’ve always had a great experience at this workshop and we weren’t going to miss this one. It’s proven to be a solid couple of days of networking and learning.This year’s workshop was right on point. We were able to talk with folks who are planning projects as well as those who have recently implemented projects. We were also given the opportunity to present the findings from FCA’s recently released Irrigation Hydro Case Study, funded by the Energy Trust of Oregon and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Be sure to read the study to learn about how two distinct irrigation districts located in the Hood River watershed executed their hydro projects and the impacts that they have had on the stream systems.

The presentations at the workshop were great; the setting was ideal for the group; and the mountain biking was fantastic.

FCA'ers and Friends Mountain Biking in Bend

FCA’ers and Friends Mountain Biking in Bend

Yes, we were able to get out on our bikes. When in Bend you have to ride a bike at least one day. We weren’t the only attendees with that idea, seeing as we had 7 bikes in the back of the truck on the way to the trail head.

We were also able to get out to visit FCA’s largest installed Farmers Screen project to date for a tour. We rarely get to participate in tours at this site due to the distance from Hood River. So when Pam Thalacker, Three Sisters Irrigation District (TSID) Administrator, agreed to lead a tour for some conference attendees, we jumped on it. We invited a couple of equipment suppliers and engineers to go on-site to see TSID’s 160 CFS Farmers Screen and to hear about the daily operations of TSID. Pam did a wonderful job of describing how the project started, the details of how it turned into a reality and how the Farmers Screen has helped the District with their daily operations.

Chatting with equipment manufacturers during the TSID tour.

Chatting with equipment manufacturers during the TSID tour.

We’d like to thank everyone for the presentations, the interest in the Case Study, and of course the connections that we made with water users who might need some assistance with fish passage at their intakes.

From Bend, we pointed things north to Hood River for a weekend with family before we headed east to Missoula, Montana for the 2013 Pacific Northwest Fish Screening and Passage Workshop.

With the weekend over and 600 miles ahead of us, it was an early start Monday as we were headed to Missoula for the workshop. FCA Project Manager Dan Kleinsmith joined us for this important conference. But before we pulled into Missoula, we made a stop by one of our most recent modular Farmers Screen installations (Sixmile Creek) to see how it looked after the vegetation at the site had had some time to recover from construction. We hadn’t seen it since the first time the client had turned the water on, so it was wonderful for all of us to see how great the screen is performing.  I think between the three of us we must have posted a dozen pictures of the Sixmile Creek screen on the FCA Instagram page. Proud FCA’ers.

Soon after we arrived in Missoula we were greeted by some familiar faces, handshakes and lots of questions about what we had been up to since we had last seen them. Within an hour we were deep into conversation with folks from Hydrolox, US Fish and Wildlife, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, River Design Group and the conference hadn’t even officially begun! Talking about new ideas, issues that we have all encountered, projects that moved forward, projects that didn’t, and how we can all work together to protect fish – such a great feeling.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth for a visit.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth for a visit.

The conference was fantastic. It began with my favorite part: when all of the states agency representatives from Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Montana give updates on what they have been working on over the past couple of years. It’s a great chance to hear about the challenges that are out there, the ways that they overcame those challenges, and to applaud just how talented their teams really are.  Seeing photos and video while listening to the screen shops talk about how they were able to complete some difficult projects is very inspiring. Screening intakes isn’t easy. If it were, we wouldn’t have so many unscreened diversions.

I was particularly interested in the new screen that Idaho Fish and Game was working on, as well as hearing about how the challenges that they were facing prompted them to work on something new and innovative. To me that’s what this conference is all about: the challenge and the solution. Sometimes that challenge is monetary, sometimes it’s geographic, and a lot of times it’s the availability of water, but none of those issues ever stop us from looking for a solution.

After a couple of days of storytelling and presentations, it all ends just as it had began. Lots of shaking hands and good wishes from your friends and colleagues from different states.  We load up the booth, we grab a cup of coffee on the way out of town and take to the road. 600 miles to go.

Till next time, all the best.


FCA’s Newest Farmers Screen is Washington’s First

And we are having a ton of fun celebrating it!

The Scott Ditch screen is a 26 CFS custom Farmers Screen that was installed by WDFW last March for the South Naches Irrigation District near Naches, WA. Complete details about the project are available here.

The project engineer, Paul Tappel of Fisheries Engineers, Inc. graciously hosted a big BBQ celebration at the project site last week. We were there to partake in the great food, drinks, and conversation with landowners and neighbors who were all happy to join in congratulating the project partners on a job well done.

Fisheries Engineers did a great job demonstrating the screen function and fish protection capabilities with the release of several juvenile salmon over the screen. This was followed by the release of the “Tappel Apples” – great fun and a really creative way to demonstrate how the Farmers Screen works to be self-cleaning.

Also on hand at the BBQ was public radio and EarthFix reporter, Courtney Flatt who published this article on the EarthFix blog, and this radio story for Northwest Public Radio.

All of us at FCA would like to thank Paul Tappel, Yakama Nation Fisheries, WDFW, and BPA for their partnership on this ground-breaking project. As FCA’s first Farmers Screen project in Washington state, this one is special. Thank you!

Meet Dave, the Ditch Walker

Dave Iverson, Ditch Walker

Dave Iverson near the Upper Badger Creek diversion, photographed by FCA's Dan Kleinsmith

We first met Dave Iverson during a site visit to the Upper Badger Creek diversion in Wasco County, Oregon, during the planning stages of a 30 CFS Farmers Screen install. This project was in a very remote site and opened 6.91 river miles for safe fish passage while serving 3,610 acres of farmland.

Dave has been the ditch walker for a long time and knows his stuff. His weekly trek to the site is 2.5 miles one-way. I say “trek” because there are no roads to the site. Rain or shine, the ditch walker is responsible for maintaining proper water flow down the ditch to the users. He is also the guy that has to jump into the creek to adjust the check boards across Badger Creek and after getting to know him, I doubt he cares if he’s wearing any hip waders. This is one tough individual. Dave is the go-to guy for getting things done, and he does a great job for his irrigation group.

We look forward to chatting more with Dave and learning how the Farmer Screen installation has helped him get his job done.


— Dan Kleinsmith, FCA Project Manager


Newest Farmers Screen now running in Corbett, Oregon.

From Dan:

I was out at Corbett Water yesterday morning for the start up of their new Farmers Screen. There are a few changes that need to be made to the fish return pool, but other than that it performed beautifully. The Corbett Water intake comes off the North Fork of Gordon Creek, on the back side of Larch Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge. Beautiful place, but I’m convinced it rains every day. There are ferns growing out of ferns, growing out of moss alongside the access road leading up the intake. That kind of tells you something about the place.

For this design, we placed the screen inside an existing flush out bay and left enough room under the new screen for a new 10” flush out pipe. In this design, water enters the headgate and is hydraulically pushed up into the inlet flume by the elevation of the existing diversion dam. Water flows through the screen, into the attenuation bay, then out a pipe that connects into the water district’s existing mainline, just down from their old intake screen. The new screen is 20’ long with a 10’ long inlet flume.

This site was absolutely a perfect fit for a Farmers Screen.  I’ll be back up there in a few weeks to take the glamour shots once the district has put on the finishing touches, so stay tuned.