South Carolina’s waterways have long been home to diadromous fish – species that use marine and freshwater habitats during their life cycle – but certain populations, including American shad, were at risk and faced passage problems that could be associated with hydroelectric plants.
To help protect, restore and enhance diadromous fish populations in the Santee River Basin, SCE&G helped form the Santee Basin Cooperative Accord with fellow hydroelectric utilities Santee Cooper and Duke Power in 2009 as part of the FERC relicensing process for the Lake Murray Dam. The accord also includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
With a 10-year action plan to study and help grow the native fish population within the Santee Basin, accord members are determining the movement patterns, rate of distribution and spawning concentrations of adult shad transferred to spawning waters above dams.
In the first year, SCE&G helped tag approximately 397 American shad at the St. Stephen fish lift and were able to track and relocate 394 of the fish. Through tagging efforts, accord members were able to track the travel patterns and key spawning locations of the American shad. In the second year, 247 American shad were transmitted and released upstream of the St. Stephen Dam. Of these, 240 were detected by at least one receiver. During this same time, approximately 3.4 million American shad were spawned and stocked in the Wateree and Broad rivers.
The long term collaborative approach is helping successfully rebuild diadromous fish populations in upstream river reaches through enhancement activities, such as the re-location of pre-spawning adults, and studying the effectiveness of permanent passage facilities at dams as stocks rebuild.