A new fish counter on the Spey

There are not many fish counters on the Spey so it was interesting to hear that Rio Tinto were going to make the substantial investment in a new counter at Spey Dam. The works to install the counter took place over the last two weeks and it should be operational today. The counter is a resistivity type with electrodes build into a fibreglass crump weir that was installed in the channel below the dam. The flow should have been reinstated over the counter last Friday but the heavy rain brought the dam to the point of spilling over the top so the workmen were withdrawn on safety grounds. The works are now planned to be finished today.

GRP moulded crump weir containing electrodes installed below Spey Dam

It’s no secret that we have major concerns regarding the impact of Spey Dam on the river and its fish populations so it will be very interesting to see the fish counts.

It can be seen from the photo above that the water coming from Spey Dam was dirty again. The very heavy rain last Thursday and consequent spate must have mobilised the earlier landslip on the Markie, it was running a milky brown colour just like a river below a melting glacier. The Rio Tinto site guys made the interesting comment that the last time there was a landslip of this scale on the Markie it was the following spring before it cleared properly. We don’t find salmon in the Markie now but there are reports that it used to be a considered a good salmon burn.

Milky Markie in spate over the hideous rock grid/sediment trap

The Spey below the dam was of a similar colour. This may have a detrimental impact on spawning below the dam this winter.

The River Spey from Spey Dam

Here’s a view of the River Spey at Garva Bridge above Spey Dam taken 30 minutes later. Spot the difference?

The natural Spey above Spey Dam



There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Pete at 2:01 pm

    Hy Brian,

    It’s been a couple of years now…has there been any good news on from the counter?

    • Brian Shaw Author at 4:19 pm

      Hi Pete,

      We received notification of the fish count through Spey Dam in 2013 via the annual report submitted by Rio Tinto to SEPA. The declared figure was a net upstream movement of 221 salmon, although that has subsequently been revised downwards a little. The counter is still subject to validation although fish lengths and timings were as expected. However our electrofishing above Spey Dam produced no salmon fry in 2014; a finding that was subsequently verified by similar results from SEPA’s own electrofishing team.

      Best regards


  2. Peter at 11:21 am

    Hi Brian,

    Any news on counter figures yet?

    Kind Regards

    • Brian Shaw Author at 6:54 pm

      Hi Pete, no news yet I’m afraid, we have been trying to arrange a meeting with Rio Tinto for some time, but no movement yet. I hope that in due course we will receive the same level of info regarding the Spey Dam counter as we do from SSE for the Truim counter.

  3. Bryan Herbert at 11:16 pm

    Hi Brian

    Have you had any information from Rio Tinto if there was any fish counted either up or down from the time the counter started working ?


    • Brian Shaw Author at 11:37 am

      Hi Bryan,

      I did call them before Christmas but the counter was still under validation and no figures were availble. I will try again this week.

      Best regards


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