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New Water Wheels at Glen Canyon Dam

June 03
05:37 2014

The water wheels in the turbines at Glen Canyon Dam are built to last fifty or more years which means they are currently in the process of being replaced with new and improved water wheels.

The seventh of eight turbines is being reassembled this summer after replacement of its water wheel with a new solid stainless steel one. The improved shape should last even longer than the expected fifty year life span and handle the wear of water flow. The old water wheels had a design error that was only recognized over the fifty year long term use. Hydraulic conditions in the water flow past the water wheel’s shape would result in cavitation and then the collapse of the water flow would hammer the buckets on the water wheel. The old water wheels required shape restoration every five or six years. The new water wheels should require restoration every fifteen years.

One of the old water wheels is on display on top of the Glen Canyon Dam and can be seen on tours conducted at the Carl Hayden Visitors Center. With lake fluctuations, the water wheels and turbines must function in a variety of operating conditions. The efficiency of the two hundred thousand horse power turbines is of paramount importance.

David Poore, inspector for the Bureau of Reclamation, has been a part of the reassembly process on each turbine. He looks forward to the completion this summer of the seventh water wheel and then next summer’s eighth and final water wheel replacement. Poore says he doesn’t plan to participate in the next round of replacements in fifty years.

Special to Lake Powell Life by Pam Brown

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