Sure, the new contraption floating on Lake Shannon in northwest Washington may not look all that sophisticated from first glance, but the new steel structure actually does all its fancy work underwater.

In an effort to boost the juvenile salmon run on the Baker River, which is blocked by the Lower Baker Dam near Concrete, Wash., in the Cascade Mountain Range, Puget Sound Energy, the owner and operator of the dam, is spending $35 million to have Skanska USA’s Seattle office construct a new fish relocator, a project that reached a milestone when crews moved the floating surface collector from the shoreline onto Lake Shannon, the lake just above the dam.

The project includes the on-shore construction of a 1,000-ton steel barge that hosts a 130-foot by 60-foot floating collector (also 45-feet tall). That steel piece will team with a net-transition structure, a permanent pier and shore-side facilities to aid in the transferring of fish from one side of the dam to the other, all in an effort to keep more fish alive and spawning in the river.

Fine-mesh guide nets and simulated currents beckon the fish toward the floating surface collector. Once they enter, the fish travel between submerged screen panels into a tank where a sampling of the salmon get tagged with microchips so that researchers can track their movements downstream.

Along with the mesh nets and the submerged screens, the system includes water pumps, fish-holding chambers, a fish-evaluation station, equipment-control rooms and a fish-loading facility. There is also a net transition structure that was built onsite.

Ken Howard, Skanska project manager, says this new project signifies state-of-the-art technology for fish transportation technology and should reduce the stress for the fish, hopefully dramatically increasing the fish populations of native salmon in the Baker River.

The final stages of construction will now be on the water and Puget Sound Energy plans to utilize the new facility in 2014.