High discharges at hydropower plants (HPP) may mask fishway attraction flows and, thereby, prevent fishes from locating and using fishways critical for their access to upstream spawning and rearing habitats. Existing methods for determining attraction flows are either based on simple guidelines (e.g., a proportion of HPP discharge) that cannot address the spatial and temporal complexity of tailrace flow patterns or complicated studies (e.g., combinations of detailed hydraulic and biological investigations) that are expensive and time-consuming. To bridge this gap, we present a new, intermediate approach to reliably determine attraction flows for technical fishways at small to medium-sized waterways (mean annual flow up to 400 m3
/s). Fundamental to our approach is a design criterion that the attraction flow should maintain its integrity as it propagates downstream from the fishway entrance to beyond the highly turbulent zone characteristic of HPP tailraces to create a discernable migration corridor connecting the fishway entrance to the downstream river. To implement this criterion, we describe a set of equations to calculate the width of the entrance and the corresponding attraction discharge. Input data are usually easy to obtain and include geometrical and hydraulic parameters describing the target HPP and its tailrace. To confirm our approach, we compare model results to four sites at German waterways where the design of attraction flow was obtained by detailed experimental and numerical methods. The comparison shows good agreement supporting our approach as a useful, intermediate alternative for determining attraction flows that bridges the gap between simple guidelines and detailed hydraulic and biological investigations.
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