Geothermal Fisheries Resources
The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 USC 661 et seq.) mandates consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the state fish and wildlife entities and occasionally National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) before beginning a geothermal project. Impacts and mitigation measures are reviewed to see if the actions are appropriate for the species in that area. Office of Tribal Energy and Economic Development-Laws and Regulations Applicable to Geothermal Energy Development
Fisheries Resources Impacts & Mitigation
Changes to fish habitats can invalidate a species's natural adaptations. The following mitigation measures can decrease the impacts to fish.
Thermal pollution: This is the biggest impact caused by geothermal projects. It is the rapid heating or cooling of a body of water due to a geothermal plant borrowing water from the lake, river, ocean or pond for facility use and then returning it with an altered temperature soon after.
Causes of thermal pollution include:
- Runoff: If a body of water is located near a geothermal site, water from roads and well pads could drain into the body of water.
- Construction: Dust particles and accidental chemical spills alter water quality
- Habitat degradation: If a site is near a body of water, trees, scrubs and other plants may be removed. Rivers may be rerouted to accommodate Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).
Decreased water temperature
The following impacts are associated with the increase or decrease in water temperature:
- Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water resulting in decreased oxygen levels (dissolved oxygen). Some species thrive in warmer waters, while others do not.
- Increased metabolic rate in fish species causes the food chain to become imbalanced.
- Eutrophication can cause biodiversity loss. This results in the disruption of plant and animal natural life cycles.
- Migration patterns change. The time and location of spawning could be altered.