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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

Newell_Post 1 year, 7 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.

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blindrabbit 1 year, 8 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.

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50YearResident 1 year, 8 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.

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KansasLiberal 1 year, 8 months ago

"The work is part of the $25 million project"

Anyone know how much of that money the city paid?

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leftylucky 1 year, 8 months ago

How high will the inflatable dam be?

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Bill Thompson 1 year, 8 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...

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