In 2011, Building 15 on Alden's Holden, Massachusetts campus was officially dedicated as the Taft Fisheries Research and Test Facility in honor of former Alden President and nationally recognized fisheries biologist, Ned Taft. 

This facility was originally constructed to support hydraulic modeling efforts. Its purpose has been reinvented several times—first as a home to test nuclear power plant emergency containment sumps and then as a place to conduct live fish testing of the pilot scale Alden Fish Friendly Turbine, an effort that was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The facility was eventually reworked to create the large water flume which remains a hallmark of the building’s testing capabilities.   

Known often as just simply "Building 15," the available facilities meet a wide range of fish testing and hydraulic performance testing needs. In recent years, numerous hydrokinetic turbines, fish bypass systems, traveling water screens, and other under water devices have been tested here. In addition, this facility has also been used for wave testing, including force and overtopping measurements.

The flexibility of the building and its flume means the use of this facility is only limited by the imaginations of our clients—it has the potential to be used for numerous innovative technologies, from testing unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) to evaluating plastic debris collection systems, and more.

Our large test flume is a great resource. People know about wind tunnels, and there are lots of those around, but what we have is basically a water tunnel and there aren’t too many of those around – especially one this size. There are a lot of potential uses for it.

Kimbal Hall, PE

Principal Engineer, Alden


Facility Features

Inside the 10,000 square foot facility is a host of unique features, including state-of-the-art fish holding facilities for biological evaluations such as fish blade strike and mortality testing or responses (e.g., avoidance) to behavioral deterrents. The large test flume offers a 10 ft. by 20 ft. cross-section capable of producing continuous flow capacity of up to 500 cubic feet per second. A recirculation system uses pumps and variable speed drives to provide a continuous velocity. A maximum of roughly 3 ft/sec can be achieved in the full width of the flume; the walls can also be constricted to increase the velocity up to about 9 ft/s.

The test flume has a 300,000 gallon storage tank with transfer pumps that can fill or drain the flume in under an hour.

Various monitoring and measuring equipment is available for studies, which includes an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP); velocity meters; a 100-ton chiller; an advanced water filtration system; and a ten ton overhead hoist.

The versatile testing facility is supported by Alden’s onsite machine shop and group of talented and experienced staff of engineers, biologists, operators and craftsmen.


Length: 80 ft
Width: 20 ft
Wall height: 10 ft 2 in
Typical test water depth: 8 ft


Variable flow rate control
Max flow: 500 cfs
Max velocity at 20 wide, 8 ft water depth: ≈ 3 ft/sec
Higher velocities with narrowed channels


115 V
230 V, 3 phase
480 V, 3 phase
Higher voltages available under special condition


Mounting and supports are custom designed to fit the fixtures.


Max lifting capacity: 10 Ton
Max hook height from grade: 13ft 4 in
Fixture/ Screens longer than 13ft 4 in must be provided with lifting lugs to allow for horizontal and vertical lifting.
Fixtures/Screens must be shipped so that they can be removed from carrier via fork truck