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Archive for Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rubber dam’ installation begins as Bowersock power plant construction progresses

August 19, 2012

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An aerial view looking south shows the continued construction of the Bowersock Mills & Power Co.’s hydroelectric power plant on the north side of the Kansas River on July 24. During the next three to four weeks, crews will install a “rubber dam,” a large rubber inner tube-like device, across the top of the current dam.

An aerial view looking south shows the continued construction of the Bowersock Mills & Power Co.’s hydroelectric power plant on the north side of the Kansas River on July 24. During the next three to four weeks, crews will install a “rubber dam,” a large rubber inner tube-like device, across the top of the current dam.

Consider it one big summertime inflatable.

Construction crews recently began installing a large rubber inner tube-like device atop the Bowersock Dam on the Kansas River. The work is part of the $25 million project by the Bowersock Mills & Power Co. to build a new hydroelectric power plant on the north bank of the river in downtown Lawrence.

For the next three to four weeks, crews will be installing what has been called a “rubber dam” across the top of the current dam, which is more than a century old.

The rubber dam can be inflated with the flip of a switch from Bowersock’s new plant. The inflated dam will increase the height of the dam, allowing more water to pool upstream. Most importantly, Bowersock leaders said, the device means their employees no longer will have to walk out on the dam to manually raise and lower plywood flashboards.

“This is a huge advance for us,” said Sarah Hill-Nelson, an owner of the Bowersock Mills and Power Co. “It is going to be so much safer.”

The rubber dam also should make it much easier to ensure the city of Lawrence, which has a water treatment plant just upstream of the dam, will continue to have a deep mill pond from which to draw water.

The city last year agreed to pay for $425,000 of the $1.3 million rubber dam project because of its benefits to the city’s water treatment plant.

Hill-Nelson said the power plant project has benefited from the dry weather and could start producing electricity in October.

“It is getting pretty exciting,” Hill-Nelson said.

Comments

Bill Thompson 2 years, 4 months ago

Back in the 70's there was an inflatable rubber dam on the Arkansas River in Wichita under the Lincoln Street bridge. They replaced it with a concrete dam after about six years because local hooligans kept vandalizing it and the river would drop overnight. Hopefully Lawrence will have a different experience...

Seth Amott 2 years, 4 months ago

I was thinking the same thing. I am from Wichita and they are just now about to wrap up the project of replacing the dam in it's entirety. When the project was presented to the public they made a pretty big point of how they installed the Rubber dam and not long after kind of jerry rigged it with a concrete one. It was never designed to be like that and needed badly to be replaced as the dam was just a patch. First thing when I saw this was, "Did they ask Wichita about Rubber dams?"

50YearResident 2 years, 4 months ago

The city gives more money to the Hills to protect the water intakes that will be affected by this project. The city last year agreed to pay for $425,000 of the $1.3 million rubber dam project because of its benefits to the city’s water treatment plant. The power plant will be drawing the water level down at the water level intakes. The question is, why didn't the Hills pay this to protect the city? Wouldn't you think that would have been a requirement to get the powerplant building permit? You can have a permit if you pay to keep the water level at our intakes at a workable level or no permit.

50YearResident 2 years, 4 months ago

Didn't the city pay for the dam repairs a few years ago for the same reason, to protect the water inlets?

blindrabbit 2 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence has had prior prolems with rubber(s) and the Kaw; just ask the folks at the wastewater treatment plant about the "whitfish" found down there. I don't think the dam will help in this situation.

Newell_Post 2 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, but it has never seemed to me that there is enough flow volume and head height in the Kaw at Lawrence for a hydro plant to make economic sense. I can understand why they built the original system in the 19th century before the development of the modern utility grid. But it just doesn't seem like this system would have the necessary economy of scale to "pencil out" in the modern world.

riverdrifter 2 years, 4 months ago

You are a hydrologist and a civil engineer to boot? What is 'flow volume'? You mean discharge in cubic feet per second? Mean daily discharge? Dang. OK. We'll just leave it up to you.

Newell_Post 2 years, 4 months ago

I used to work for an electric utility that operated 11 large hydroelectric dams plus several smaller ones. None of them were located on shallow, slow-moving, low-slope, low-volume rivers like the Kaw.

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