Celebrated by tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada, Chief Joseph Hatchery fulfilled a decades-old treaty. After damming the Columbus River and impacting historic salmon runs in the mid-twentieth century, the United States Congress agreed to construct four hatcheries to provide for losses of fish species in the river. The fourth and final Chief Joseph Hatchery was built in 2013. The state-of-the-art facility produces up to 2.9 million chinook salmon annually which are used for both tribal ceremonies and subsistence needs, as well as recreational fishing for all.
With multiple construction sites spanning 55 miles, the expansive project included a fish hatchery and ladder, an office building, a pipeline from a well field to the hatchery, two water source tie-ins to the dam, a housing complex for hatchery workers, and two fish acclimation ponds with sustainable water reuse features.
The Tribal Employee Rights Office (TERO) required the utilization of all available, qualified tribal labor. The local workforce was unfamiliar with the technical aspects of the project as the construction being performed was uncommon in the area. In response, PCL partnered with the Confederated Tribal Authority to develop an extensive apprenticeship training program and collaborated with TERO to achieve an impressive 72% local tribal labor on the project.
Concrete durability was essential for a successful project. Sixty percent of the water supplied to the hatchery is fed from a gravity pipeline with a steel intake bulkhead on the upstream face of the Chief Joseph Dam. While the project was underway, divers discovered the underwater conditions of the adjacent embankment were unstable and could potentially damage the steel gate, breaking the necessary water-tight seal for operation. The project team worked diligently to understand the challenge at hand and quickly created a solution where a concrete intake wall could be constructed underwater to replace the original steel intake. Using concrete eliminated the fears of damaging the intake area. The concrete structure also eliminated the need for divers to inspect the system on a regular basis in contrast to inspection requirements set forth by the Army Corps of Engineers surrounding underwater steel structures.