NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 24, 2014) – During HydroVision International, the world’s largest hydro event, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District showcased its projects in Tennessee and Kentucky, which supported the professional development of conference attendees.
A group of technical experts attending the event at Music City Center toured Kentucky Lock in Grand Rivers, Ky., and the nearby Barkley Power Plant in Kuttawa, Ky., July 21.
The participants had a great view of the Kentucky Lock Addition Project where the Nashville District is currently adding a 110-foot by 1,200-foot navigation lock at Kentucky Dam to reduce the time it takes for barges to pass through.
Project Manager Adam Walker led the tour and said the group was able to stand on the existing lock wall. They looked down on where the Corps is excavating rock and placing concrete into the upstream portion of the new lock being constructed, he said.
The group then visited the Barkley Power Plant where they received an overview of hydropower operations and then toured the gallery, control room, generator floor area, wheel pit, and the generator equipment.
Bethany Duarte, associate editor of Hydro Review Magazine, said 34 engineers, scientists, consultants, developers and business owners from at least six countries soaked up as much knowledge as they could, asked questions, and interacted with Corps officials to share expertise and obtain information.
“HydroVision International is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and I think it’s only fitting that they took a tour to these wonderful plants that have been here since the 30s and 40s and have been long-standing testaments to hydropower… which lasts a long time and has sustainability,” Duarte said. “And they’re seeing the benefits of these well-built structures, and maybe learning some new things so that when they go and have these new developments that they’re a little better equipped and they see what’s been successful and what had to be changed.”
A second group visited Old Hickory Power Plant in Hendersonville, Tenn., July 21. The facility, which is located 25 miles upstream of Nashville on the Cumberland River, began producing hydropower in the 1950s.
Colin R. Wensley, senior dam safety engineer at SaskPower in Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada, climbed up and down several flights of stairs to see the inner workings of the dam and said the experience was helpful because his company is also dealing with having to maintain older dams and hydropower facilities.
“Most of our system was developed in the 50s and 60s… so we share some of those same challenges that aging infrastructure has here,” Wensley said. He added that it is great to see other dams and to interact and network with other experts.
A busload of scholars in the Hydro Research Foundation Fellowship Program also stopped by for a “Hydro Basics” tour of Old Hickory Dam, Power Plant and Lock as part of their activities during HydroVision International.
Brenna Vaughn, program director for the fellowship program, said the organization is nationally funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Program. The foundation has funded 53 students to date at 27 universities throughout the United States to do conventional and pump storage hydropower related research.
“And so our students join the program to do anything from electrical, mechanical, civil engineering, biology… we’ve got a few geology students,” Vaughn said. “So each student is actually funded through this program to do the research that is so pertinent to this industry. We’ve identified 62 topics across the industry in five different areas that these students have applied for funding… so they’re funded for their master’s and doctorate level research.”
Amy Shaw, a native of Nashville and graduate student at Vanderbilt University, is currently a hydro fellow and said she is working on a doctorate degree in environmental engineering. She is focusing on water resources and so the technical tour at the dam was very beneficial, she said.
“My personal interest was how spill gates operate, because that’s something that is sort of neglected a lot when people discuss hydro and flood control,” Shaw said. “And even though this isn’t a flood control reservoir it’s still important to have to consider how spill incorporates and supplements helping the water quality levels.”
On July 22, participants of HydroVision International visited Center Hill Power Plant and the dam where the Nashville District is currently installing a subsurface concrete barrier wall through the earthen embankment to stop seepage through the karst geology.
The Corps constructed Center Hill Dam in the 1940s. The project is located in Lancaster, Tenn., on the Caney Fork River, a tributary of the Cumberland River.
Marc Ryan, a principal engineer with Sage Engineers, Inc., in Sacramento, Calif., toured on the work platform where contractors with Bauer Foundation Corporation are working to drill and install the barrier wall deep into the foundation of the embankment. He said the visit gave him an opportunity to visit with his peers and to garner a greater understanding of how other projects are being managed.
“Obviously there is some cutting-edge work being done out here. It’s great to see that,” Ryan said. “You read about it, but it’s good to see the drill rig. It’s good to see some of this proprietary information, how it’s working and how it might not be working. It’s also neat to see a clean construction site. It’s good to reinforce that so we can take that back to our own projects.”
(For news, information and updates please follow the Nashville District on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps)