Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Low water level enables much-needed maintenance to Bowersock Dam

Bowersock Mill and Power Company workers, clockwise from left, Rich Foreman, plant manager, Ed Dumas and Shannon Porter, make their way along the icy conditions of the Kansas River Tuesday, Jan. 27. Because of low water levels and no water moving over the top of the dam, the crew has been able to install new boards along the top of the dam.

Bowersock Mill and Power Company workers, clockwise from left, Rich Foreman, plant manager, Ed Dumas and Shannon Porter, make their way along the icy conditions of the Kansas River Tuesday, Jan. 27. Because of low water levels and no water moving over the top of the dam, the crew has been able to install new boards along the top of the dam.

January 27, 2009

Advertisement

Working on the Bowersock Dam

Rich Foreman describes the dangers of working in the cold and ice spanning the Kansas River.

Bowersock Mill and Power Company workers rebuild a network of boards and doors Tuesday that hold back the Kansas River to enable the dam to generate more power.

Bowersock Mill and Power Company workers rebuild a network of boards and doors Tuesday that hold back the Kansas River to enable the dam to generate more power.

How’s this for a job description:

• Strap ice screws onto your boots.

• Venture onto a dam built during the Ulysses S. Grant administration.

• Install new planks of water-blocking plywood, at times stepping on a river silent on the surface only because it’s frozen.

Oh, yeah: Manage to do it all with a smile, even as your teeth freeze in 10-degree weather.

“It’s been an adventure, but we’re just so grateful to get this opportunity to get the doors back up,” said Sarah Hill-Nelson, owner and operator of Bowersock Mills & Power Co., whose hydroelectric plant at the southern end of the Bowersock Dam borders the northern edge of downtown Lawrence. “When you get a window like this to raise the doors, it doesn’t matter if it’s Saturday, Sunday or Christmas. You get out there and do it.”

Since Jan. 17, Bowersock crews have been overhauling the dam’s network of wooden boards, metal doors and support systems — components that work together to raise the water level up to 4 feet in the area immediately upriver from the dam.

The system improves rowing conditions for Kansas University’s crew team, helps ensure flow for the city’s Kaw Water Treatment Plant, and boosts the force of water rushing past Bowersock’s seven hydroelectric turbines. In turn, the power plant can approach its peak efficiency of 2.3 megawatts, enough electricity to serve 1,500 to 1,800 homes.

The dam’s doors had been down since April 2007, until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers helped lower the river level to enable the latest work. Crews soon scurried to replace 17 broken boards. Inspectors checked the dam’s condition.

The frigid work of welding new hinges and supports for the entire line is scheduled for completion today.

“It does get cold,” Hill-Nelson said, after working atop the dam. “But it’s like my dad’s always said: ‘God and the corps deal the cards, and we just play the hand.’ ”

Comments

Chris Ogle 5 years, 10 months ago

Man, that looks Cold. Need any help??? I could sit in the truck.

Danimal 5 years, 10 months ago

Why doesn't Bowersock get some crazy grant from the Govt. to upgrade their turbines? Wasn't 1973 the last time they upgraded? Surely they could get more power out of the river with newer equipment.

Keith 5 years, 10 months ago

Yes, but they really want the city to replace the dam for them. That's why you see in every article mentioning the dam, the reference to the city water supply and the KU rowers. Never mind that Bowersock power is the only entity profiting from the dam.

gr 5 years, 10 months ago

"Never mind that Bowersock power is the only entity profiting from the dam."Seems like to me someone recently said the city and KU rowers benefited from the dam. Unless "profit" means strictly monetary. Why are you against clean energy? Are you saying there is a point where you don't care about renewable energy nor about the CO2 myth?

Janet Lowther 5 years, 10 months ago

lcchain, it's kind of complicated: but it comes down to the fact that steel is strong in tension, but not very rigid. Steel heavy enough to be rigid enough for the application would be way heavier than they could work with the cable car/hoist system they have.Now, someone could probably engineer ferro-cement banner boards using technology similar to concrete boats which wouldn't be too heavy and last better than the wood ones do, but it would take some pretty sophisticated structural calculations to convince people that they were worth the cost. . .

FarneyMac 5 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Keith 5 years, 10 months ago

Why are you against clean energy? Are you saying there is a point where you don't care about renewable energy nor about the CO2 myth?GR, I never said anything about the above words you put in my mouth. I am against corporate welfare which is what the city rebuilding the dam will amount to.

gr 5 years, 10 months ago

Keith, but you are implying other words in your mouth. Such as this would be the first time the city ever helped anyone else, that Bowersock is somehow less worthy, that the city shouldn't pay its share for the benefit, that the promotion of the CO2 myth isn't costing most everyone everywhere lots of completely wasted tax dollars would be some words which come to mind.And, you just said that "corporate welfare" is over the limit for supporting renewable energy.

Keith 5 years, 10 months ago

Once again I said nothing about any of the red herrings you drag through your response. Here are the salient points. Does the city need the dam? Does the city benefit from the dam more than the commercial entity that built the dam in the first place? If not, then Bowersock power, not the city, needs to pay to maintain their infrastructure.

gr 5 years, 10 months ago

Keith, could you define what you mean by "red herrings" and how I used any? Keep in mind how you used any in your first post which elicited my complaint.Does the city need the dam? I would say the water supply would be tentative at best during low water flows.Why does the city need to benefit MORE than anyone else to make it worthwhile for them to support? Should I be taxed for the empT if I don't benefit more than anyone else? Can you name other instances where some company benefits more than the city, yet the city gives them money?You keep referring to "commercial entity" or "corporate" as if they are somehow inherently evil. Since you seem so dead set against Bowersock and it's green energy, could you tell where, if all these evil corporations were done away with, where you would get your electrical power? For example, how much electrical power did YOU (in case you are as dense as the dead pebble, YOU means you, yourself, personally using your own equipment) generate?

Keith 5 years, 10 months ago

Since you insist on dragging in extraneous items and claiming them as my thoughts, I can only deduce that you are clairvoyant. I will make one more attempt to engage you in rational argument.Red herrings: dragging in the spurious claims of green energy and claiming that I am against it when I said nothing of the sort.Does the city need the dam: Keep in mind that the city also draws water from wells along the river (at least they used to) and from Clinton Lake.Why does the city....: The dam was built, way back in the mists of history, so that Bowersock whatever could use the river to generate profit. The T is another red herring since it is strictly a govt service not a private enterprise.Commercial entity: Another red herring, I said nothing about any "evil" corporations, only that private enterprise should pay its own way. I think that is a basic tenet of capitalism. Final red herring: I said nothing about doing away with 'evil' corporations.Bonus points: a gratuitous personal slam about my density, which I will now repay. Since you apparently are clairvoyant and know my thoughts enough to express them for me, see if you can guess how many fingers I am waving your way.End of transmission, I have better things to do.

gr 5 years, 10 months ago

"I will make one more attempt to engage you in rational argument."How rational were you in your first comment?"Red herrings: dragging in the spurious claims of green energy and claiming that I am against it when I said nothing of the sort."It is green energy. You were against supporting them.Your comments do not leave available very many, if any, other green energy options. No red herring there."The T is another red herring since it is strictly a govt service not a private enterprise."Only a red herring when you qualify by distinguishing behavior of government and private in benefiting "more".Unfair qualifying. I'd guess you're for socialism. I'm sure you will call that a red herring too although you mentioned it."Commercial entity: Another red herring"Possibly, as you did not classify as if they were "evil" - only should not be supported. However, you have said nothing about other private companies benefiting directly from tax dollars or tax breaks. Which leads me to believe you are specifically targeting Bowersock."a gratuitous personal slam about my density, "I said, "in case". Do you know what that means? You didn't answer it, either. Do those two things mean I was correct?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.