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PGE launches floating surface collector

COURTESY OF PORTLAND GENERAL ELECTRIC - A tugboat was used to push a floating surface collector into place near North Fork Dam on Thursday, April 30. The $54 million facility has been under construction at Promontory Marina for more than a year. The floating surface collector is the 'crown jewel' of a series of fish passage projects Portland General Electric has undertaken as part of a relicensing agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to continue operating hydroprojects on the Clackamas River for the next several decades.If you happened to have been driving down Highway 224 near North Fork Dam last Thursday, you may have been met with a curious sight: a tugboat pushing a massive contraption the size of Estacada’s City Hall down the river.

No, your eyes didn’t deceive you.

That giant structure was Portland General Electric’s new floating surface collector.

Under construction since December 2013, the surface collector was assembled at Promontory Marina.

The project has kept the marina, boat ramp and store closed.

The massive facility was designed to float on the reservoir near North Fork dam, attracting juvenile fish into a sort of “express way” pipe that will speed them past the North Fork, Faraday and River Mill hydroelectric systems to safely continue their journey downstream.

Juvenile fish will be naturally attracted to the floating surface collector’s simulated downstream flow, once inside the collector, the water velocity will speed up, making it impossible for juvenile fish to turn around.

Young fish will be directed into a newly constructed pipe that will take them through and around North Fork dam to join with the existing pipe to deposit the baby fish downstream of River Mill dam in a matter of hours.

COURTESY OF PORTLAND GENERAL ELECTRIC - A tugboat takes the new floating surface collector on a 2.5 mile journey downstream to its final destination near North Fork Dam on Thursday, April 30. The trip took about an hour.After more than a year of work, the surface collector was finally ready to launch.

Steve Corson, a communications official for PGE, said getting the surface collector into the water was a three-day process involving sliding it into the marina with “giant airbags and lots of high-tension cables.”

On Thursday, April 30, a tugboat pushed the floating surface collector to its final destination on the reservoir near North Fork Dam, a journey of more than 2 miles that took just over an hour.

PGE has added a time lapse video of the journey to Youtube.

“Contractors will spend the next couple of weeks installing the permanent anchors,” Corson said of the next steps for the floating surface collector. “Then over the next few months after that they’ll connect the power supply and test all of the facility’s equipment and functions. The collector should be fully tested and on-line by this fall.”

In a previous interview, Corson referred to the approximately $54 million floating surface collector as the “crown jewel” of the series of fish passage improvement projects the company has undertaken as part of a relicensing agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to continue operating hydroelectric projects on the Clackamas River for the next several decades.

In a February interview, Project Engineer Sean Flak said the company is making improvements to the Promontory marina and boat ramp that had served as the construction site for the floating surface collector.

Planned improvements include a better turnaround for boats, new parking spaces and campground upgrades.

Recreational improvements, Corson said, were also part of the relicensing agreement.

The Promontory Marina along with the boat ramp and store will remain closed to public access until Summer 2016.

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