“Keeping 1.2 million fish alive per year is no easy task,” says Ted Hallows, supervisor at Kamas State Fish Hatchery in Utah. Whirling disease, a serious issue many fish hatcheries are faced with, is especially familiar to Kamas Fish Hatchery.

When the entire population at Kamas Fish Hatchery in Utah was threatened with whirling disease contamination, installing an improved water treatment system protected the fish. The pretreatment filtration and ultraviolet technology from VAF Filtration Systems (VAF), Arvada, Colo., provided the hatchery with effective protection against the potentially fatal fish disease.

Kamas Fish Hatchery produces trout and other fish to stock much of the state’s water sources. In 2010, a sinkhole was discovered about three-quarters of a mile upstream the hatchery. Evidence of whirling disease had been found in Beaver Creek located near the sinkhole, and there was concern that the proximity of the sinkhole to the contaminated water could potentially cause mixed waters in the local springs used by the hatchery. (Whirling disease causes fish to swim in unnatural patterns eventually leading to death.)

A whirling disease outbreak and possible loss of the entire fish inventory was not something Kamas was willing to chance. To avoid the risk of contamination, a combination of VAF pretreatment filtration and an application of UV light was selected and installed.

The facility was outfitted with five VAF V-1500 filters to remove total suspended solids down to 25 micron, providing efficient pretreatment for the UV technology. Three canisters of 40 UV lights kill bacteria and parasites during the second stage of the new $1.3 million filtering system. The system now in operation is designed to handle up to 3,000 gal/min of incoming source water but currently averages about 2,300 gal/min. Similar UV technology in combination with pretreatment filtration is in place at three other Utah state hatcheries.

Designed by Sunrise Engineering, the project included site and plant piping, electrical work, pump vaults and modifications to the existing hatchery shop building to accommodate the new treatment equipment. The Kamas system includes several emergency backups and a modified recirculation system which has increased the source waters and in turn, increased production at the hatchery.