Juneau salmon hatchery forced to destroy fish because of landslide damage

Thousands of chum salmon return to DIPAC’s Macaulay facility where they were released 4 to 5 years ago. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

One of the largest salmon hatcheries in the state was forced to destroy thousands of fish after a landslide Wednesday damaged a pipeline that supplies its water. 

The Macaulay Salmon Hatchery in Juneau is run by Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc., known locally as DIPAC. Its water comes from Salmon Creek Reservoir and shares a pipeline with Alaska Electric Light & Power’s power plant.

Debris from the slide and others along Salmon Creek road caused by heavy rain makes it difficult to access the area. That means it will take some time to repair the pipeline

Without a freshwater source, the hatchery’s staff had to make a tough decision over which fish to save with the remaining water.

An aerial photograph shows damage along the pipeline below Salmon Creek Reservoir. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Electric Light & Power)

They destroyed all the young chinook salmon and rainbow trout that would have been released next spring, and most of the young coho salmon, too. 

The rest of the facility’s fish stock is stable for now. The hatchery is working with AEL&P to secure a backup water supply until the pipeline can come back on line. 

The Salmon Creek trail remains closed while AEL&P makes repairs. 

The hatchery has been operating in its current location since 1990, according to its website. It’s permitted for 135 million chum, 1.5 million coho, 1 million chinook and 50,000 rainbow trout. It can hold up to 300 million eggs and is one of the eight largest salmon hatcheries in the State of Alaska.

Correction: A previous version of this story had the wrong name for Douglas Island Pink and Chum, Inc.