The Jornadas Técnicas de Hidroenergia (technical hydro-energy days), organized by the Portuguese Water Resources Association (APRH), were held on May 23 & 24 in Régua, Portugal, a riverine city situated in the right bank of river Douro, an emblematic river for hydropower production in Portugal. The focus of this year was on migratory fish species and ecologic flow regimes in cascades of hydropower plants.

Hydropower infrastructures have had very positive impacts on human development in the Portuguese continental territory, despite their footprint in the territory and in the fluvial space. However, its sustainability depends on the balance between positive and negative impacts. In the last decades, existing infrastructures have been progressively adapted to enhance the positive impacts and mitigate the negative ones.

Both issues, fish migration and e-flow, have received wide attention from water resources stakeholders and from the hydro energy sector, leading to the development of innovative solutions currently under monitoring. During this year’s hydro-energy day, Portuguese stakeholders discussed technical solutions concerned with fish migration and e-flows implementation, as well as the environmental and energy impacts, considering the implications on the economic feasibility of the different uses that are required to the dammed water. The connectivity solutions, methods, tools and devices under development in the FIThydro project, introduced by Prof António Pinheiro from the University of Lisbon (IST), were met with great interest.

The day after, the program included a visit to the Carrapatelo dam fish lock, which has recently been retrofitted. The visit showed the improvement on the fish passage efficiency, namely for the European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.), an endangered fish species.

Overall, the conference offered an excellent overview of the fish passage issues in Portugal, that was complemented by the FIThydro presentation on river connectivity at a European level. The visit to the Carrapatelo fish lock provided an interesting insight in the progresses made with the installation of new equipment and in the monitoring of the fish passage.

Author: António Pinheiro
Picture rights: António Pinheiro

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