Gate automation project to benefit key international spawning grounds

Published Oct. 17, 2016

DETROIT- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District recently awarded a contract to automate gates at the Corps’ compensating works structure at the head of the St. Marys rapids in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

This $8.02 million dollar effort leverages Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide power to the gates and add the capability of opening and closing those gates from a control center in the Corps Soo Locks facility.  Currently these gates can only be opened and closed through a timely and labor intensive process of hand cranking mechanical gears on the gates themselves. 

The rapids immediately downstream of the gates provide a critical spawning area for a diverse range of fish species.  This roughly 80 acre area of rapids is one of the most productive spawning locations anywhere in the Great Lakes system.  The automation project will provide much greater flexibility to how the gates can be operated to optimize spawning conditions in the rapids.

“This critical project will allow us to move the gates at very controlled rates and execute more complicated gate position adjustment strategies that will maximize the productivity of spawning in these important rapids” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office.

Construction of this project is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2017, with a scheduled completion date in December of 2018.  Koontz Electric Company, Inc. of Morrilton, Ark. is the prime contractor responsible for this project.

The compensating works structure contains 16 gates located across the international divide between the United States and Canada.  The Corps operates and maintains the eight U.S. gates, while Brookfield Renewable Energy Group operates and maintains the eight Canadian gates.  Gate movements are executed as part of the overall regulation of outflows from Lake Superior specified by the Lake Superior Board of Control, which was established in 1914 by the International Joint Commission.


Lynn Rose

Release no. 101617-01