The US Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a US$4.5M contract for safety and fire protection improvements at Grand Coulee dam’s pump generator plant. Last year one of the plant’s generators was damaged by fire.

Burke Electric of Washington, US will work on the contract which includes constructing and installing fire barriers and doors; installing an alarm and detection system; modifying existing sprinkler systems; installing motor-operated fire/smoke dampers; upgrading existing fire water systems; and providing new fire suppression systems. Work started at the end of July 2001 and will end around August 2003.

Meanwhile, scientists are experimenting with the use of strobe lights to keep trout and salmon out of the turbines at Grand Coulee dam. Three high powered strobes now flash from the bottom of a barge near the dam, creating a curtain of illumination that should scare away rainbow trout and sockeye salmon. The goal is to keep them in Lake Roosevelt, the reservoir behind the dam. The experiment will continue for a three-year period.

Grand Coulee dam is located on the Columbia river in north central Washington. Completed in 1942, it serves as a multipurpose facility providing water for irrigation, recreation, wildlife, hydroelectric power production, as well as flood control.