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Debris Mitigation and Removal for Dams-Upstream view of dam in question and spillway


The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is exploring technologies to provide solutions for the removal and mitigation of debris (specifically woody debris) collected at dam intake structures with trashracks or at the upstream face of dams.


Debris such as large individual trees, mats of connected wood pieces, vegetation, and other natural and anthropogenic items can be transported to the upstream face of dams. Debris can become racked against or lodged inside dam outflow structures such as radial gates, spillways, penstocks, and submerged outlet works. Woody debris that racks against grated submerged outlet works and/or intakes can be extremely difficult to remove.

Debris clogging can be a challenging operations and maintenance issue. Additionally, clogging at intake trashracks can cause reductions in power production and water delivery, or cause impacts to recreation if the reservoir water surface elevation must be lowered for debris removal. Increased debris load at many Reclamation facilities can be attributed to a growing number and size of wildfires in the western United States.

Debris management often occurs through physical removal with a crane or by boat. This manual removal approach creates employee safety concerns. Click to see example video here.

Bureau of Reclamation Seeking: Debris Mitigation and Removal for Dams-Image of a dam and debris removal system
Upstream view of the intake with trashrack and spillway structures at Black Canyon Dam, Idaho.


Debris Removal:

Reclamation is interested in debris removal technologies that physically remove debris from the full height of a trashrack on dam intake structures or at the upstream face of a dam. Technologies can be manual or automatic in nature but should be able to complete the task efficiently, safely, and economically. Reclamation is also interested in technologies that remove submerged and floating woody debris that varies in size from small branches to large trees.

Debris Mitigation:

Bureau of Reclamation is interested in technologies that can be used to mitigate debris accumulation against dam intake structures with trashracks. These technologies can be implemented upstream of the dam or near the intake structure but should be able to significantly reduce the amount of debris which accumulates on the trashracks of dam intakes. Debris mitigation can also be achieved by diverting debris over dam spillway structures and technologies/solutions that can achieve this are also of interest.

Desired Outcome of the Solution

Open to various types of collaborations or partnership opportunities at any development stage to find solutions that could be applied for the mitigation and/or removal of woody debris at dams.

Previously Attempted Solutions

Traditional floating log booms installed upstream of a dam to collect debris or divert debris downstream, or any solution that requires a change in the normal dam operating regime, are not of interest.


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