The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) recently installed a new kind of “smolt slide” to help juvenile salmon pass through Seattle’s Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks on their out-migration to the ocean.
Compared to older versions, the new slides are safer for the salmon and safer for staff to install. They also include improved sensors to detect fish passing through the facility, providing data critical to understanding how salmon migrate in and out of WRIA 8 (the Lake Washington/Cedar/ Sammamish Watershed) and what may help their recovery.
The work is part of a Planning Assistance to States Agreement between King County (via WRIA 8) and the Corps that shares costs related to monitoring Chinook salmon migration in the watershed. It includes installing detectors at the Locks, capturing and tagging juvenile Chinook, and determining juvenile salmon survival rates through the Lake Washington system.
Salmon face challenges navigating the 100 year-old Locks on their way out of and back into the watershed and the smolt slides are one step toward an easier passage for these iconic and threatened fish.
More news about the Ballard Locks
Hiram M. Chittenden-Ballard Locks Centennial Celebration
“One hundred years ago, The Locks and Ship Canal were built by Seattle and the Corps of Engineers as a commercial navigation route to develop the City of Seattle. Today the Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks are the Nation’s busiest with over 40,000 vessels per year [passing through.] Boats ‘lock thru’ 24 hours a day, except during maintenance. In addition, a significant salmon migration passes through the Locks that can total over 100,000 salmon.”
Economic Impacts of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
“The Ballard Locks provide $1.2 billion a year in economic impact to our region according to a recent study by the McDowell Group, funded by maritime and industrial businesses, Port of Seattle, City of Seattle, and King County. The report describes the benefits of reliable operation of the Locks, the potential losses in the event of a failure, and steps needed to repair the 100-year-old facility.”
“Happy 100th birthday, Ballard Locks. Hope you get the repairs you wished for” – KUOW News [AUDIO], June 27, 2017
“Ballard Locks Repairs” – KIRO7 News [VIDEO], June 27, 2017