Thompson State Fish Hatchery Cool Water Rearing Improvements

Aerial of Thompson State Fish Hatchery

Thompson State Fish Hatchery Cool Water Rearing Improvements

Keeping Michigan’s Lakes and Rivers Stocked with Prized Fish

The state of Michigan operates a robust system of fish collection stations and fish hatcheries to collect, spawn, raise and stock prized fish into its waters. To maintain optimal production at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ aging facilities, ongoing maintenance and upgrades are periodically required. Founded in 1922, the Thompson State Fish Hatchery produces both coldwater and coolwater fish. The species include Chinook Salmon, Steelhead Rainbow Trout, Walleye and Muskellunge for stocking in both inland and Great Lakes waters. The facility required repairs to continue operation and expand production to meet the state’s stocking goals. HDR was hired to complete the conceptual layout and design and provide construction administration services.   

As part of our scope of work, the Thompson State Fish Hatchery coldwater and coolwater facilities received several improvements. Specifically related to the coldwater facility, upgrades included new indoor rearing vessel coating, updated emergency generator and the addition of a new automated feeding system. For the coolwater production, a new building, water headtank with degassing columns, ponds, wells and emergency backup power were constructed. 

Coolwater Production Building

The new coolwater production building was constructed on state-owned land approximately 1/3 mile south of the existing coldwater facility.  The new 2,000-square-foot building is designed to incubate up to 60,000,000 Walleye eggs and provides isolation space for rearing quarantined fish from outside of the watershed. The building includes an egg receiving and disinfection room specifically designed to reduce the threat of transferring fish diseases and incorporates chillers and boilers to help provide ideal rearing temperatures for fish development.  

Outdoor Fish Production Ponds

The upgrade included the construction of two one-acre- and four half-acre-lined ponds. Additionally, a new solar pond was added to provided tempered water to the site. The new ponds are lined with geomembranes and include underdrains. Subsurface aeration, via a centrally located low-pressure aeration system, was also installed. The new ponds have predator exclusion netting covering the entry area of each pond, as well as an internal harvest basin. The addition of one external harvest kettle structure provides additional flexibility during fish harvest.  

Improved Feeding Systems 

As part of the coldwater facility renovation design, we provided a review of indoor and outdoor feeding systems to aid the state in selecting and installing an automated feeding system. Michigan DNR selected a hopper-style feeder that delivers feed to raceways from one of five hoppers containing varying feed sizes. A computer or programable logic controller provides an interface to the system to adjust feeding levels, either from the hatchery office or at the feed distribution point.

The 40-plus-year-old fish feeders on the outdoor raceways were replaced with a centralized pneumatic fish feeding system with feed storage bins, a master control panel, feed delivery piping and supports. Automated fish feeders provide high-frequency, controlled feeding programs and can reduce the requirement for hatchery personnel to administer feed manually. Each raceway can receive individualized feed programs and includes four feed distribution points per raceway.  

Reliable Power

Providing reliable power to a hatchery facility is critical, as even brief outages can have negative impacts on fish. Our design included a 125 kW generator to provide backup power to the new hatchery building. The diesel generator package included an automatic transfer switch to transfer power, load banks and fuel storage.

Aerial of Thompson State Fish Hatchery


Merit Award (2022)
Engineering Excellence Awards
American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan