Mike's World
Electric Scooter
Electric Porsche
Solar Hua Hin
Solar California
Water Heater
Protein Folding
Cancer Cure
Travel & Living
Extreme Makeover
Email Flotsam
It Wasn't Me!
Google Apps Privacy Policy
Hoover Dam

IBM runs a software training event in Las Vegas every year and after the festivities I drove out to Hoover Dam with my friend Elan from high school. I was there 30 years ago and remembered most things but being there and seeing the awesome scale of this thing is stunning..  The single road crossing the river is narrow and windy on both sides and goes right across the top of the dam.  There's a lot of truck traffic and with heightened security at such a sensitive site it just became unworkable. They are building a new road and bridge which will go straight across the valley, parallel to the dam but roughly over the far end of the powerhouses.

The Colorado River was dammed in the '30s for two purposes, first for flood control downstream, second for electricity generation. The dam paid for its construction and ongoing maintenance by selling the generated power.  When we were there only 2 of the 17 turbines spinning which is obviously not peak generation, but only 2/17ths of the water flow capacity was needed downstream.  If they run all turbines all the time the lake would eventually drain so there is a tradeoff.

On the left below is one of the pair of intake towers. On the left is are the right and left powerstations holding the turbines.  The disturbance ni the water shows a turbine in operation. You just can't grasp the height from pictures. I'm afraid of heights (well actually just the last few inches before impact) and I could NOT get even close to the edge to look down. This is clearly Elan's picture!

Even with minimal water release, you can see the water level is far below the high-water mark on the brick wall on the right side of the picture. This was taken in January so it must have been a dry summer and fall.

We're now down in one of the turbine rooms.  In the bottom-right corner you can see some equipment - the brown-colored cylinder is a mini-turbine that produces the power that the dam itself consumes. This leaves the others completely independant of the needs of the dam.