Sucker recovery project involves floating solar aeration systems

Klamath Falls, Ore. – An Oregon Tech professor wants to use solar power to help boost populations of endangered sucker fish on Upper Klamath Lake.

Professor Mason Terry is the director of the Oregon Renewable Energy Center at Oregon Tech.

He’s working on ways to help endangered shortnose and Lost River suckers.

“The sucker is endangered.”  Terry points out.  “Let’s do something.”

Senator Jeff Merkley recently held a ‘sucker summit’ at Oregon Tech to address the problem.

Terry was one of the many who attended.  “Just to understand the overall picture of the problem for the entire basin of the sucker.”

Young suckers aren’t making it to breeding age.

Professor Terry wants to use floating aeration systems to improve water quality on Upper Klamath Lake.  “These are a couple of solar panels with a pump and some batteries that float on some little floats on the lake.”

The pumps would then inject oxygen down into the lake bottom, where the suckers typically live.

The system is similar to what you might use in a household aquarium.

“It’s the same basic concept.”  Notes Terry.  “You’re just adding oxygen into the water.”

Terry wants to build 10 of the floating systems, at a cost of about $2,000 each.  “We’re hoping that we’re going to be fully designed with the first prototype in two months.”

Terry says he’s confident the units can help to improve water quality, and help suckers recover.  “Of course – otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing it.”

Prototypes will be developed with the help of students, and the designs tested in the Harbor Isles area of Klamath Falls.