Implementation of Culvert Design Guide for Stream Connectivity and Aquatic Organism Passage (AOP)

Principal Investigator(s):

Matthew Hernick, Associate Engineer, SAFHL - Hydraulic Lab


  • Christian Lenhart, Research Assistant Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

Project summary:

Transportation networks and stream networks are important to the economic and ecological well-being of Minnesota's people and landscapes. Disruptions to the continuity of stream habitat, water flow, and sediment transport processes caused by poorly planned culverts can interfere with aquatic organism passage (AOP) and result in long-term negative impacts to infrastructure and streams.

This project developed and delivered in-person training for hydraulic engineers covering the newly completed Minnesota Culvert Design Guide for Stream Connectivity and Aquatic Organism Passage (AOP Design Guide). This guide was compiled by University of Minnesota researchers in a previous project ( to assist culvert designers in meeting permit requirements for fish passage and ecological connectivity at public road crossings of public waters in Minnesota.

The AOP Design Guide contains selection tools to help identify which design method is most appropriate for a given location based on stream parameters and a set of seven best practices that capture critical elements for effective culvert design that integrates AOP and stream connectivity, safety to the general public, and infrastructure resilience and longevity. The breadth of this material will be new to many culvert designers. In fact, the MnDOT Bridge Office has received multiple requests for training since publication in January 2019.

The primary objective of this project was to help designers efficiently and consistently develop public waters culvert projects with respect to AOP and stream connectivity, by applying best practices and appropriate calculations, starting from the basis of field-identified stream metrics.

Project details: