Essay on Fluids: Hoover Dam and Water

Submitted By jrmelliott
Words: 5852
Pages: 24

The Hoover Dam

Abstract: This paper provides an in-depth look at the Hoover Dam. The scope of this paper is to provide a thorough understanding of the Hoover Dam, the engineering concepts involved in building it, and the construction parameters used. It will also look at the environmental impact of the dam on its surroundings. A look at the current condition of the dam and recent events will also add to the understanding of the Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam is a large scale dam in Boulder City, Nevada that has a maximum flow rate of 50,000 cubic feet per second. It produces 4.2 TWh per year in power through its hydroelectric plant. It was a monumental project at the time of construction in 1931. Its purpose was to control floods, provide irrigation water, and to provide power to the neighboring areas. It provides up to 25% of the hydro-power it produces to the southern California Metropolitan Area. The topics focused on in this paper include the many equations and fluid mechanic concepts involved, as well as pertinent current event information needed to understand what the dam is today. It will also focus on the environmental impact of the dam on the surrounding areas. Because of the dams massive size it takes up a lot of land, and large amounts of earth had to be altered and shifted to make way for the it. Also, the dam was constructed in the middle of the Colorado River and completely changed the way the river flowed. This changed how it provided water to wildlife and other areas downstream of the dam. Anytime a dam is built it causes a decrease in the flow rate and capacity of the river which can have an impact on the wildlife and plant life that live there. The dam had to be built to withstand massive pressures from the hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of water retained. The dam is over 700 ft deep and had to be constructed to withstand the pressure from the held water at this depth. The dam is made mostly of reinforced concrete with varying aggregate and densities placed at strategic areas throughout.
( This paper will analyze the construction of the dam and relate it to relevant fluid mechanic concepts. These concepts are the hydrostatic forces acting on the face and the walls of the dam, flow rates through the spillways and gates, the major and minor losses involved in these pipe flows, and turbine power are all involved simultaneously in the dam. The hydrostatic pressure equation, F=ϒh, will help us describe the forces involved in the dam related to the height of the water, h. Q=VA is the conservation of mass and flow rate equation which will give us the velocity of the exiting water based on the incoming flow rate. This velocity can then also be used to determine if the downstream flow of the river would be damaging to the shores of the river. With too high of a velocity, natural deposits of important nutrients and particles will not be able to form on the shorelines. Without this buildup, erosion can become a major problem. If the river is widening because of this erosion, that means the habitats of native species will be diminished.

The Colorado River was once one of the most dangerous rivers in the United States. The river flows from the Rocky Mountains, down through seven states, and finally into the Gulf of California, which is in Mexico. This river’s length is 1,450 miles or 2,334 km from start to finish. This massive river carries great amounts of silt with it, which it then deposits into the delta of the Gulf of California. Due to the sheer size and rushing waters of the Colorado, it would sporadically over flow its banks and cause flooding in the surrounding cities and farms. Something needed to be done about the river so that the cities would no longer have to worry about damage to their buildings and crops. It soon became apparent to the government that this massive river could become part of the solution to the irrigation problems that surrounded the area. This