Project Title: Replace Aeration and Degassing Tower (FFS #R5PA)
Project Description: $1.13 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding went a long way in providing the clean, healthy water fish need to survive.
From 1974 until 2005, the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery in Warren, Pennsylvania, produced as many as 1.3 million lake trout annually to help restore the populations in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Then the 35-year-old aeration tower began crumbling, high pressure water lines and electronic controls were corroding, and the hatchery became unable to operate. ARRA funds were used to replace the failing infrastructure, build new water treatment towers, and restore the facility, the only fish hatchery east of the Mississippi River that produces lake trout for population recovery in the Lower Great Lakes.
The Allegheny National Fish Hatchery was inactive since 2005 when a fish virus forced the Service to depopulate the facility of fish. The facility has been thoroughly cleaned and the outdoor raceways, thought to be the origin of the disease, have been covered to prevent birds from landing in them and contaminating the water. The final step to reopening the Allegheny NFH was the completion of this construction project to correct critical structural repairs.
The water in Allegheny’s four wells was supersaturated with nitrogen and not suitable for the fish. It went through an aeration and degassing process to remove the high levels of nitrogen gas in the facility’s four new aeration towers. Water from underground wells were pumped into the top of the towers then flew through a sieve-like plate. It then bounced off a series of other plates before it was injected with oxygen to remove whatever excess nitrogen remained. Then, the water flew into both the hatchery building and the raceways before finally exiting into the Allegheny River.
In March, 2010, the Service awarded a $1,681,570 contract to William T. Spaeder Co., Inc., from nearby Erie, Pennsylvania to carry out the project. The small company was started in 1919 by World War I Navy veteran William “Bill” Spaeder and has remained in the family ever since. Today, 10 of Bill’s grandchildren work for the company, including company president Terry M. Spaeder.
“We are happy to have the work,” said project leader Wendy Meeker. “It is a significant contract. The project will mean a lot for the Warren area and it will be good to get the hatchery back online.”
Along with constructing a new aeration building and installing the peripheral equipment needed to treat the existing well water, the company also constructed a new concrete masonry building to house the degassing equipment, electrical service, and controls.
Since the hatchery was taken offline, the Service relied on two other fish hatcheries in Vermont to stock the Lower Great Lakes. The transportation distance led to concerns for the long-term survival of the fish and the cost of transport. There is currently no self-sustaining lake trout population in the Lower Great Lakes.
Tracy Copeland, manager of the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery, sees this project as an ecological and economical “win-win” situation. “This will allow us to meet our mission goals, to restore the lake trout population in the Lower Great Lakes, and save some money in the long run because we don’t have to transport the fish as far,” she said in January 2010. “When the hatchery reopens, we will be able to produce more and better fish.”
For more information, visit the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery website.
This page was created by Lucas Correia and Keith Shannon, student interns for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Region funded by the Recovery Act.
Originally posted 01/12/2010
Page Completed 05/12/2011