Sustainability and Specialization

By Kris Polly

The Colville Indian Reservation, located in central Washington State, is home to two of the nation’s largest hydroelectric stations, Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph Dams, and is just upriver of Wells Dam. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have a financial stake in these facilities and also depend on the electricity they generate for most of their power needs. In our cover story, Cody Desautel, director of the tribes’ natural resources division, tells us about how the tribes cooperate with local public utility districts and about the importance of balancing hydropower with the preservation of healthy land, water, and wildlife. 

Denver Water recently replaced a trash rack at Gross Dam, located 270 feet below the surface. To carry out the work, it contracted with Global Diving and Salvage, which employed a team of saturation divers—specialized professionals who lived inside a pressurized environment for the duration of the project. We get multiple viewpoints on this fascinating project in our interviews with Douglas Raitt, the dam safety engineering manager of Denver Water, and Michael Rawlings, a senior project manager at Global Diving. 

We also speak with professionals from two specialized consulting firms. Lasalle|NHC is a Montréal-based consulting firm offering services in the fields of hydraulics, hydrology, applied fluid mechanics, and water resources. As President Marc Villeneuve tells us, the company has significant expertise in the use of physical hydraulic scale models and computer modeling for the design and construction of hydropower facilities. 

Gomez and Sullivan Engineers is a hydropower engineering and environmental science consulting firm based in the northeastern United States that provides dam safety services, licensing and compliance services, fish passage design and effectiveness studies, and more. Executive Vice President and Board Chairman Tom Sullivan tells us about the firm’s history and current services and why he recently received the Henwood Award from the National Hydropower Association (NHA). 

Finally, we hear from NHA President and CEO Malcolm Woolf about the success of the association’s first-ever Clean Currents conference and trade show, which was held in October 2021, and its plans for next year. 

The highly specialized work of natural resources and hydropower professionals is helping us reach renewable energy goals while preserving the safety of our communities and the ecosystems on which we rely. I hope you find their stories in this issue of Hydro Leader inspiring. 

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Hydro Leader magazine and the president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at