WENATCHEE - An innovative project at a Wenatchee fish hatchery is reusing water and raising healthier fish for release into the wild.
The project at the Eastbank Fish Hatchery also eases pressure on the aquifer system that is the regional water supply for about 67,800 people, according to the Chelan County PUD.
The reuse system uses nearly 90 percent less water than traditional systems, said Joe Miller, the PUD’s hatchery program manager. Most of the water used is filtered, reoxygenated, mixed with fresh water and then reintroduced into tanks.
Efforts to conserve water at the hatchery will prolong the region’s right to draw from the aquifer and postpone the need to develop a costly new source of drinking water, the Wenatchee World reported.
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The PUD-owned hatchery, in Douglas County, draws from the Eastbank Aquifer. “The question is whether the aquifer can handle the draw for everyone,” said Greg Brizendine, manager of the East Wenatchee Water District.
The most recent estimates show that the region’s water right to draw from the aquifer could be depleted by 2025, based on an estimated population growth of 1 percent per year.
In 2008, the PUD launched an experiment to see if methods used by the aquaculture industry could be used for raising salmon for release into the wild.
At the Eastbank facility, which the state Department of Fish and Wildlife manages for the PUD, water constantly flows in a gentle, circular current in two circular fiberglass tanks. Fish droppings and uneaten food are collected over a central drain at the center of the tanks’ concave bottoms and remove with a quick flush before they break down to dirty the water.
The system allows more fish to be raised in the same amount of water for overall water savings of nearly 90 percent, Miller said.