For every big Dam on the Columbia and Snake rivers, there’s a miniature version used for research At a lab in Vicksburg, Mississippi the government builds mini dams modeled after real ones on rivers across the country Researchers are using these models to test new ways of spilling water to help fish swim downriver They’re just like the real thing only 50 to 80 times smaller You won’t see any fish here, but these models are key to a new court-ordered plan for helping endangered salmon Spilling water means it won’t go through turbines to generate electricity Instead, it can go straight down the river – a much better path for baby salmon headed to the ocean. The water can also send fish in the wrong direction, and put them in the path of predators. So researchers test the water flow in miniature models first. They use confetti and dye to see where the water goes. At the bottom of the pool is shaped exactly like the bottom of the river. This helps them choose a spill plan that sends the water and the fish on a straight path downstream. If everything looks good in here… …they’ll go ahead and do the same thing out here.