Native fishes have become an increasingly important concern when designing fish passable culverts. Many operational culverts constrict waterways which increase velocities and prevent upstream passage of small fish species. The current method to ensure fish passage is to match the average cross sectional velocity to the sustained swim speed of the fish. This study investigates the passage rates of leatherside chub (Lepidomeda aliciae) and speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus) at three sites (an arch culvert with substrate bottom, box culvert with bare bottom, and a stream section with no culvert) located on Salina Creek near Salina, UT. It was found that fish were able to pass through all of the sites. However, fish were able to take advantage of the habitat within the culvert that had a substrate bottom more effectively than within the culvert that had no substrate within the barrel. This was reflected in population density estimates at each of the three test sites for each species. It was also found that the substrate at the arch culvert and stream sites scaled with the fish measured in this study. The D50 and D84 were 44 and 205 mm at the arch culvert site and 26 and 126 mm at the stream site. The average fish length was 76 mm for the chub and 64 mm for the dace. It is recommended that (1) a culvert size that produces a velocity equal to the prolonged swim speed of target fish in the near boundary region (2 cm above the bed) be used in the future, and (2) substrate that scales with the target fish species be placed in the culvert barrel.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





fish passage, culvert hydraulics, native Utah fishes