Adam and I working our way down Gunnuk creek to have a look at potential impoundment sites.

Adam and I working our way down Gunnuk creek to have a look at potential impoundment sites.

I visited Kake for a couple days in June in order to join Adam, Peter Bibb of IPEC and their engineer consultants (HDR) on a survey of the Gunnuk Creek watershed for hydro-potential. Adam and I have been working together on this project for about a year and we were excited to see the feasibility studies progressing.

IPEC and HDR folks came down from Juneau in a helicopter and picked Adam and I up at the Kake airport. We flew around the watershed and provided orientation support for the engineers. We landed at a rock pit site so the geologist could have a closer look at the rock type near a proposed impoundment site. The engineers only spent an hour or so in the area but we are eager to see their trip report and advice for next steps.

During the stop for the rock typing we got some advice from the HDR geologist that helped¬†identify another potential impoundment site. After the IPEC and HDR folks left, Adam and I drove up into the Gunnuk watershed to do some ground-truthing of this site. On the plus side, this site would offer an opportunity to capture around 65% of the watershed’s flow in a reservoir. On the negative side, the site would require a relative long penstock (almost 3 miles) and a bit larger impoundment than we have been playing around with in our design scenarios. The cost/benefit ratio for siting a reservoir is a key question to answer. In any case, it was good for Adam and I to get out and stretch our legs…

Adam surveying a potential impoundment site in the Gunnuk creek watershed.

Adam surveying a potential impoundment site in the Gunnuk creek watershed.

This short trip to Kake also afforded an opportunity to visit an SSP community with Alana Peterson, our economic development regional catalyst. She was joined in Kake by her Haa Aani colleague Ed Davis. I got to know Ed a bit on the flight to Kake and he seems like a great ally in our collective efforts to support rural community prosperity. Ed was down in Kake to work with Dennis Gray, plant manager for Rocky Pass Seafoods. Haa Aani reopened this fish processing plant in Kake 4 years ago and Ed and Dennis have been doing a great job of getting the plant up and running again. We took a tour of the plant at the tail end of the first big chum delivery and got to see first hand some of the replacement equipment and almost 30 (75% local) workers in action.

There is a strong connection between Adam’s work on developing affordable renewable energy and the long-term success of the fish processing plant – more affordable energy = more profit for the plant = more hiring power and capital for value-added processing = more money in the local economy… We all look forward to ongoing collaboration on these two important projects.

30+ folks processing the first big load of chum salmon in the Rocky Pass Seafoods fish processing plant.

30+ folks processing the first big load of chum salmon in the Rocky Pass Seafoods fish processing plant.