40 fish rescued after hydro reservoir drained

One of the rescued fish. Picture credit: Galloway Fisheries Trust
One of the rescued fish. Picture credit: Galloway Fisheries Trust

Routine maintenance work on part of the Galloway Hydro Scheme led to an unusual fish rescue at Carsfad near Castle Douglas.

Around 40 fish were helped to safety after becoming trapped as the reservoir at Carsfad was partially dewatered by ScottishPower to allow a programme of maintenance work to take place.

The fish ladder at Carsfad.

The fish ladder at Carsfad.

Various ‘fish ladders’ are already installed around the network of dams and hydro-electric power stations in Galloway to ensure the generation of clean renewable energy and also help conserve wildlife and habitats.

The ladders consist of a series of ascending pools, some of which are large resting pools, each connected by a submerged gate into the reservoir through which the fish can swim.

Water flow is altered during the works to allow river life to pass safely however a number of fish were found to be isolated in the fish pass as the dam level dropped.

A Scottish Power spokesman explained: “When we drain down a reservoir for maintenance work, the water that normally flows through the fish pass is released through the bottom of the dam instead.

“As we begin draining, our main priority is to ‘retrieve and recover’ any fish caught before the work actually takes place. We work closely with Galloway Fisheries Trust and ensured they were on hand to catch the fish and move them to a safer area. It was great to see them all swimming on their way.”

In total 20 brown trout, 17 rainbows, two sticklebacks and a perch were helped back into open water.

He added: “We take our responsibility to the local environment incredibly seriously and are committed to supporting local wildlife and working with both SEPA and the Environmental Protection Agency to look after the many species that live in and around the Galloway Hydros Scheme.”

The Galloway Hydros, commissioned in the mid-1930s, were the first large-scale integrated hydro-electric complex to be built in Britain for the purpose of public electricity supply.

The generating stations draw water from the Rivers Ken, Deugh Dee and Doon and storage in reservoirs at Loch Doon, Kendoon, Carsfad, Earlstoun, Clatteringshaws, Loch Ken and Tongland.

The scheme, which is operated by Scottish Power, can produce a total peak power of around 106 megawatts. ScottishPower powered around 150,000 homes using hydro power last year.