The dam at EW Kamienna on the Drawa after 116 years again passable for ichtyofauna.

New fish pass at EW Kamienna during technical tests.

Migration of fish through the hydroelectric power plant in Głusk, on the Drawa River, has again become possible for all species of ichthyofauna occurring in its basin. The reason for its cessation was the construction of the dam at the turn of the XIX and XX century. It was one of the first such power plants in the world. It was launched barely 5 years after the first hydropower plant in the world. Kamienna Power Plant has been operating since 1903 in unchanged form as one of the first in Europe and one of the last such old ones still operating. At the time of its construction, the knowledge about the effects of creating constructions on rivers was negligible, and the admiration for the possibilities of technology was enormous. As with many other such activities around the globe, the decline in fish stocks occurred gradually, and it was only after decades that the effects of cutting off the Drawski salmon, a population with exceptional properties across the whole species, from natural spawning grounds were understood. At the same time, the populations of individual tributaries of the Odra River disappeared until the total disappearance in the 1980s. The Drawska population was the last native in Poland. Restoration attempts have been made for over a century, but none of the previous ones has been effective, which resulted in the disappearance of many species, especially migratory, bi-environmental ones, including the Atlantic salmon. Attempts to artificially sustain the presence of the species through restocking, first native population, later imported from the Latvian Dźwina River, proved to be equally ineffective. Currently, the species is considered extinct in Polish waters, although efforts have been made for years to its return, just like the previously lost Atlantic Sturgeon.

The dam damming the water for the needs of the power plant to a height of about 8 meters closes the access to the ichthyofauna at the 32nd kilometer of the Drawa River from its mouth to the Noteć. Above the backwater, which is more than two kilometers long, the Drawa looks the most impressive, its ecological status is the best, with excellent conditions for the natural breeding and rearing of juvenile stages of many species of fish and several equally well-rated tributaries in the Drawieński National Park. Unfortunately, migratory fish have not been there for over a century.

View of an old fish pass. This device did not perform any functions, except for the illusion that there is a fish pass.

Thanks to the funds of the LIFE+ programme and NFOŚ and GW, the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Szczecin as part of the LIFE13NAT/PL/000009 project, LIFEDrawaPL, together with its partners, including representatives of the Directorate of the Drawieński National Park, scientific institutes, universities, local governments and NGO, decided to improve the ecological situation of the Drawa River basin. One of the key activities in this area was the reconstruction of the useless fish pass at EW Kamienna.

The investment was preceded by developing its concept together with the experts from the Steering Group, including dr hab. Piotr Dębowski – prof. of The Inland Fisheries Institute and Józef Jeleński. The project documentation was prepared by the DHV Hydroprojekt Sp. z o.o.

The existing so far in DNP, too sloping larinier type fish pass with approx. 86 m length and height differences up to 0.5 m between its chambers, has been replaced by a new vertical slot fishway with a rough bottom. The fish pass made as part of the LIFEDrawaPL project is currently over 225 meters long, has 45 chambers each about 4.6 m long and 3 m wide, 55 cm slots and a layer of stones, with a grain size matched to the power of the stream flowing by a 2% slope. A layer of stone laid at the bottom of the entire fish pass ensures greater roughness of the bottom while providing a layer of water flowing more slowly for the migration of less-floating organisms.

The cost of the entire investment was PLN 4,886,831.16.

The facility will soon be equipped with a barrier directing the flowing fish to the fish pass, a fish counter and the monitoring system of the facility.

EW Kamienna was until recently the largest, but not the only barrier to ichthyofauna on the Drawa. Until recently, there were many more such problems in the Drawa basin. Thanks to the actions taken as part of the LIFEDrawaPL project, most of them were successfully solved in the last two years.

In the buffer zone of the Drawieński National Park (about 15 km from the fish pass at EW Kamienna) on the Korytnica River, two fish passes were made in Jaźwiny and Sówka with an additional leveling of the remains of a threshold at the bottom of the river between these objects.

Up of the Drawa river basin, in Głęboczek, a winding channel around the weir existing at the historic, decaying Mill was made as part of the project. As part of the task, it was also made with a series of three rapids. In addition to the role of an ecological corridor, the weir bypass channel also serves as a relief channel.

As part of the project, construction works are being done in Drawsko Pomorskie and Złocieniec.

The scheme of the project activities in the Drawa basin. Own work based on the KZGW Geoportal. Access February 18, 2019 at 22:10

As part of the project, also some actions will be taken in order to restore morphological diversity on the sections where it has been significantly changed. It is planned to build several dozen gravel and stone piles, restoring the proper ecological condition of the Drawa river habitats.

The whole project will improve the ecological condition of the river basin and habitat 3260 by restoring connectivity of migration corridors and restoring a sequence of rapids.

Activities carried out under the project will secure the condition of the most valuable section of the Drawa, running through the Drawieński National Park, and will allow you to recreate the highest natural quality of the river outside the Park.