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Officials call Glen Canyon Dam’s water release a success

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 28th, 2012

Night time view of the high-flow release, with all four bypass tubes open.

The six-day experimental high flow release from Glen Canyon Dam went off without a hitch on the operations side according to dam facility manager Jason Tucker.

“Crews worked to have all units continue generating power at maximum capacity during the release and they were able to meet all of the targets of the high flow schedule,” said Tucker.

A great deal of maintenance work is required, added Tucker, to allow these types of events to take place with minimal impact to regular dam operations.

According to a letter from the Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration to Assistant Secretary of Water and Science Anne Castle, the recent experimental high flow release from Glen Canyon Dam is estimated to result in approximately $1.4 million in added power expenses for the association.

The added cost projection is a result of having to adjust and regulate regular monthly flow rates to accommodate for this large release in the finite amount of total water released from Lake Powell each year.

According to WAPA having to adjust for the high flow experiment requires them to purchase power from outside sources during months when the adjusted flow causes there to be a reduced volume of power produced.

Tucker explained that while all of the units produce energy, the water that travels through the bypass tubes is not used to make energy, but still counts toward release allowances, and that is where WAPA feels the pinch.

In an effort to further minimize the impact on power costs the Bureau of Reclamation has plans of dropping flows in the typically low demand months of February and April.

Jack Schmidt, leader of the USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, said that from an environmental standpoint, there has been visual confirmation of new sand bars being formed from the sediment, but it is hard to tell if they are larger or smaller than the ones that previously existed there.

According to Schmidt, all of the measurement protocols went as planned and all of their monitoring equipment worked well. He said that over the next month teams will review recordings from time-lapse cameras, collect sediment samples and review data to determine the full impact of the release.

A report based on the data collected will be reviewed at a meeting in late January where everyone will get a better picture as to how successful the experiment actually was, Schmidt added.

For the complete article see the 11-28-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-28-2012 paper.

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