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Black & Veatch Designs Power Supply System to Meet Needs of Fish Barrier

Black & Veatch Designs Power Supply System to Meet Electrical Needs of Fish Barrier Near Chicago

Project Name
Fish Barrier 1 Exterior Electric
Romeoville, Ill.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Chicago District, has been operating a series of electrical fish barriers since 2002 to deter the inter-basin establishment of Asian carp and other invasive fish species. One of the installations is along the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal, which connects the Mississippi River Basin with the Great Lakes. The fish barriers are designed to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan and beyond.  The environmental and economic impact of the potential invasion of these species into the Great Lakes is of such high importance, this facility has been deemed mission-critical.

Fish barriers send pulses of electrical current into the canal with the goal of deterring the fish from traveling through the electrified area of the canal. This barrier protects the commercial fishing industry from the invasive species without impeding the transportation industry along the canal.   

A new and larger fish barrier, named Barrier 1, was authorized, and the design of the power supply and related systems was awarded to Black & Veatch. The scope of work also included the design of associated structures necessary to support or enclose electrical equipment. The project required close coordination with the local utility as well as landowners of adjacent industrial properties, including a major rail carrier. 

Barrier 1 consists of two submerged electric arrays in the canal, each powered from an independent utility service. Each utility service is derived from a separate distribution feeder on the utility system, and a utility service transformer for each service was included in the design, all to provide enhanced reliability of service. 

The Black & Veatch design included medium voltage main service switchgear for both utility services.  Diesel engine stand-by generators and the associated medium voltage generator switchgear were designed to provide backup power for either of the two arrays, along with stable power for the Barrier 1 control center. The Black & Veatch design also included all structures and supporting equipment needed to adequately protect the equipment from coal dust intrusion and excessive temperature variation. Lighting protection and grounding design, HVAC, access control, and fire alarm/fire suppression were included in these supporting systems. 

The switchgear building design included space for future expansion of the electric power system to include a 5.6 megawatt medium voltage UPS and switchgear for up to two additional standby generators, if desired.  Initially, two medium voltage 3.25 megawatt generators were designed to serve the Barrier 1 arrays and the mechanical/electrical services for the Barrier 1 control center building.

Black & Veatch has had a long-standing working relationship with the USACE, and the team worked closely with the Chicago District for five years on this project, including several requests for comprehensive design alternatives necessary to meet funding restrictions. Through it all, the company earned an “excellent” rating from the client (5 out of 5) for quality of product/service category.

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