Fish and water infrastructure are not natural bedfellows. When fish swim into pipes and dam intakes, they become separated from their natural habitat, which impacts native populations, threatens biodiversity, and impedes recovery efforts for threatened and endangered species.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), in collaboration with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, launched the Fish Protection Prize to inspire innovators to compete for $700,000 of combined cash prizes and voucher support to help protect fish from these threats. In September 2020, three teams were selected as Grand Prize winners, and now these teams will work alongside researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to advance their solutions.
The Fish Protection Prize sought innovative solutions, designs, and strategies to protect fish from water infrastructure, such as water diversions and pipes, and intakes at hydropower dams.
This prize built on the initial Fish Exclusion Prize, run by the Bureau of Reclamation, released on March 6, 2019. The winners of the first prize were announced in December 2019. The next three-staged prize invited competitors to share their innovative approach—along with a design and research plan—for keeping fish away from water diversions and intakes.
Competitors proposed solutions for any fish species found in the United States and that could be applied to river and irrigation canal diversions, unscreened diversion pipes for irrigation or municipal water supplies, cooling water intakes of power plants, or dam intakes. New ideas for addressing fish exclusion or improvements to existing technologies were also welcome.
While the prize solicited solutions of all shapes and sizes, organizers identified the following six topic areas as having the greatest potential for successful and cost-effective fish exclusion:
The CONCEPT Stage is now closed, and 9 finalists were selected to enter the INCUBATION Stage. In the INCUBATION Stage, participants were paired with experts from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and received up to 50 hours of technical analysis or other support in advance of the PITCH CONTEST. The PITCH CONTEST took place September 15-16, 2020 at the virtual American Fisheries Society meeting, and this final stage determined which of the finalists received the cash and voucher Grand Prizes.
Watch the awards announcement, presented by Alejandro Moreno, Director of WPTO, and David Raff, Chief Engineer of the Bureau of Reclamation.
Sign up for updates on our HeroX challenge page.
Calling all innovators, visionaries, and enthusiasts with a passion for preservation! Be part of a trailblazing contest sparking tomorrow’s marine life-energy solutions. Citizens or permanent residents of the United States and private or non-federal public entities, such as townships, tribes, corporations, and other organizations that are incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States are invited to compete in the American-Made Challenge network. Individuals can compete alone or as a member of a group.
Are you a thinker, entrepreneur, or potential partner? Anyone with an innovative idea can participate in the American-Made Challenges.