On Monday 22 June, work on the £100,000 investment project begins at the freshwater reservoir which is situated in the heart of the Trossachs between Callander and Brig o’Turk. The loch is home to salmon and sea trout which migrate up-river from the sea at the Forth Estuary to spawn and is a popular location for fishing.
As part of the project, timber baffles are being installed in the spill channel at the reservoir’s dam, in line with the north channel of the Eas Gobhain River. This enhancement will complement the existing Victorian fish pass on the south channel. The baffles will break up the water flow in the spill channel and assist the fish in leaping across the dam spillway on their journey upstream from the River Teith to reproduce.
The project is expected to take around three weeks for completion and will be undertaken by our contractors George Leslie.
“... this work will contribute to an increase in the number of fish spawning successfully, as well as an improvement in the welfare of the fish.”
Water and Land Manager at Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
Speaking about the work, Alexander Young, senior project manager, said: “While an existing fish pass is in operation at Loch Venachar Reservoir, salmon swimming up-river on the north side have a greater likelihood of becoming trapped and have no route into the reservoir. We’ve been working with Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to look at ways to improve fish passage around the dam and the work we’re doing here will help improve the chances of fish passing through the weir and reaching the loch.”
“Appropriate measures have also been taken to ensure the work is carried out with full respect for the local environment. During the planning stages we have consulted with fish ecologists and drawn on the expertise of Mott MacDonald, a leading provider of dam engineering services. The construction materials we’re using will be strictly controlled to make sure there is no negative impact on the watercourse and much of the work will be done by hand rather than by heavy machinery.”
SEPA is fully supportive of the project. Nathan Critchlow-Watton, Water and Land Manager at SEPA, said: “Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment. We are pleased to see Scottish Water improving fish passage into Loch Venachar. Salmon are an iconic species for Scotland, and this work will contribute to an increase in the number of fish spawning successfully, as well as an improvement in the welfare of the fish.”
Loch Venachar is a compensation reservoir. Its outlet dam, including the existing fish pass, was constructed in the 1850s and commissioned in 1859 as part of the Katrine Water Project to supply Glasgow with fresh water. The dam helps control the water flows in the River Teith, which is a tributary of the River Forth. It has Category-A Listed status and for that reason a team of experts has been brought in to oversee the work and ensure improvements for fish passage don’t compromise the existing structures or detract from their historic value.
Once the project has been completed, it is expected that fish surveys will be carried out by the local fisheries trust to ascertain whether the measures taken to improve fish migration have been effective or whether any adjustments to the baffles are required.