The Facts Of Hoover Dam

April 13, 2022


Namrata Karande is working as a Product developer:Civil Engineer at Lesics Engineers Pvt. Ltd. Namrata has worked on projects such as Footing and Hoover dam and Burj khalifa.

In the last article you saw, What are the engineering concepts behind the construction of Hoover Dam, Features of Arch dam technology, Gravity Arch dam…etc for detailed information you can check our previous article as well. In this article, I will let you know further details of Hoover Dam.

River diversion

The important thing I would like to mention is that before the engineers began the construction work, they had to first divert the river flow in another direction. To do so, they constructed temporary cofferdams and diversion tunnels (Fig.1).

Fig.1 - Cofferdams and Diversion tunnels

Tricky Spillways - remedy for overflows

Many people can think that overflow can easily damage the structures constructed downstream. To solve this potential problem, engineers constructed passageways, called ‘spillways’ on either side of the dam upstream so that water can be spilled downstream. These spillways (Fig.2) are located 27 feet below the top of the dam. If water reaches that level, it starts flowing into spillways.

Fig.2 - Spillways

The Seepage Effect

Do you know that you can actually walk inside the Hoover Dam body? Several tunnels are hidden inside the dam body. They constructed these tunnels (Fig.3A) because of a simple phenomenon with which you might be familiar - water seepage. A liquid under pressure always wants to escape through porous material. Here the water molecules flow through the soil below the dam body due to the seepage effect (Fig.3B). The issue is that this flow generates a high uplift pressure on the base of the dam, reducing its stability. This is why Mr. Savage designed a gallery, a tunnel that collects all seepage water from the dam body and base. This action reduces the uplift pressure considerably. The collected water is then discharged safely. These galleries also provide passageways for leak or crack inspections.

Fig.3A - Tunnel inside Dam body
Fig.3B - Seepage effect

Such detailed engineering plans with a future-focused vision are the reason why the Hoover Dam is still standing strong and serving the nation.

I hope you might have found both Article 1 and Article 2 of Hoover Dam interesting.

Thanks for reading!

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