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When The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation got approval for the design and construction of a hatchery to mitigate the loss of fishing from damming of the Columbia River, they turned to Tetra Tech to serve as the prime consultant and engineer of record to design the facility.

The construction of the Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams (1933–1955) on the Columbia River west of Spokane, Washington, terminated the migration of homebound chinook salmon to the upper Columbia River adjacent to the Colville Indian Reservation. The dams blocked all upstream passage of salmon, eliminating access to spawning grounds and completely eliminating migratory fish populations above Chief Joseph Dam where Native American tribes had fished for subsistence for thousands of years.

Prior to the construction of the dams this salmon population was the center of the Colville Confederated Tribe’s livelihood. The tribes of the Columbia River basin were promised hatcheries to mitigate their loss. Tetra Tech worked closely with the Bonneville Power Administration to help fulfill this decades-old promise.

The Chief Joseph Hatchery was designed to support the Tribe’s selective harvest and conservation goals. Tetra Tech provided site planning, permitting, engineering, and architectural design for the main hatchery site and the two off-site acclimation facilities. The Colville Tribe Fish and Wildlife Department uses the new hatchery and off-site acclimation facilities as critical tools in a program to enhance and conserve spring, summer, and fall chinook salmon species and restore a natural run to the Okanogan River. Tetra Tech was also involved throughout the construction phases, working with the general contractor and its subcontractors.

Tetra Tech re-engineered an unused irrigation port constructed at the Chief Joseph Dam in 1955 to deliver up to 60 cubic feet per second of river water to the hatchery by gravity. This provides water at the proper temperature during most of the rearing season and saves energy costs, making the project economically feasible.

The hatchery is designed to release 2.9 million young salmon annually. Fish will imprint on locations where they were reared and released with the goal of restoring a natural robust run of fish in the upper Columbia River and its tributaries. This has the potential to sustainably and significantly increase the number of returning adult fish. An increase in harvestable salmon will benefit not only the Colville Tribes but also commercial and sport fisheries along the river’s path.

The hatchery is designed to meet rigorous technical criteria set by the Hatchery Scientific Research Group. It will be used as a model for future designs geared toward protecting wild salmon while restoring diminishing runs.


  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington (ACEC) 2014 Gold Award—Environmental Category
  • Washington Aggregates and Concrete Association 2014 Grand Award