The long awaited upgrade to the bywash at Catrine Dam was completed a couple of weeks ago just in time for the anticipated smolt run. This new bywash will function along with the old one that didn’t appear to be particularly attractive to smolts migrating downstream in anything but low flows.
Hopefully now there will be adequate opportunities for smolts to leave the lade and prevent the backs ups we’ve seen since 2017 when the hydro scheme was first commissioned. Ayrshire Rivers Trust and the Board worked tirelessly to bring about these changes after the evidence mounted that showed the original bywash was unfit for purpose. SEPA agreed and eventually the operating company emplyed another hydro specialist to design the new bywash. Hopefully this time it will work but until it operates for this season’s smolt run and the results assessed, we won’t know however, it does look a much better design that previously installed.
The only concern we have currently is that with the middle pool levels so low, the outfall from the bywash is shallow and may lead to scale loss from smolts as they are discharged out of the pipes into the river. Perhaps there are plans still to deepen this area but now is the time that it’s most needed. We will ask about this.
With only 9mm or so of rainfall this month, the smolts have yet to reach Catrine in numbers but they will come, I’m sure. There were a couple within the lade this evening when we checked. We will keep an eye on this over the next weeks to see how things develop. This is essential work that can’t be done at home nor delayed so is justifiable under the current lock down conditions.