These Farmers Screen projects feature hydropower generation utilizing water that was already being used to irrigate crops.
The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) website offers several helpful introductory articles on small-scale, low impact hydro. Visit their hydro index here.
Why does a fish screen company care about hydro?
It’s a valid question.
Agriculture accounts for 80% of the water use in the world. When considering water conservation, ensuring agriculture has the most sophisticated tools to grow food while reducing water consumption needs to be a top priority. Like all infrastructure, modern Ag infrastructure (fish screens, pipes, sprinklers, etc.) for water delivery is very expensive. There are limited federal and state dollars to support improvements and landowners can rarely afford the multi-generational expense that these projects require.
This is where hydro comes in. In places where there is enough water and fall, and proper fish protection can be ensured, power can be generated in conduit by using water that is already traveling to a farm. Using the revenue from this fish-friendly, green source of hydropower, landowners and districts can generate a source of revenue to upgrade their systems, improve production, reduce impact, and enable water conservation.
Doesn’t hydro kill fish?
Some does. But not all hydro is the same.
The reality is that humans have utilized the energy of moving water for thousands of years. There are more types of hydropower projects than we can count. Unfortunately, all hydro projects tend to get lumped together as one, regardless of the benefits and impact.
FCA supports green, low-impact hydropower. This type of hydropower:
Uses water that is already being used for another purpose
Is located in a water conveyance system
Is fish friendly
Will not increase the amount of water currently being diverted
The evolution of the Farmers Screen
The Farmers Screen™ was originally developed by a group of irrigators in the Hood River Valley struggling with fish protection issues, high sediment coming from the Mt. Hood glaciers, and significant debris. To reduce the $90,000 a year in operation and maintenance expenses, in addition to the lost revenue when water was blocked from traveling to the hydro plants and/or farmers, the staff of Famers Irrigation District spent 10 years and $2.5 million developing the Farmers Screen. To hear their story, watch below: