Student’s Corner

This past weekend, a group of classmates and I went to visit Mt. Morris dam for a project we are working on. We signed up for a tour to get an up close and personal look at dams and how they operate. Not only were the views amazing from the outside of the dam (pictured above), but they were also just as cool from the inside (no pictures were allowed to be taken inside, so I suggest you go and see it for yourself!).

Going in to the experience, I was skeptical about what I’d find. Many dams today are in a state of disarray, structurally. This causes environmental problems, on top of the ones created by the construction of the dams to begin with. Mt. Morris, however, is subject to regular check ups, so it is not deteriorating and has been successful in doing its job over the years.

Here are the basic facts, as told to us by Jules the tour guide

Mt. Morris is a “gravity dam,” or one that uses its own weight to resist the horizontal pressure of incoming water. The floodgates remain open when there is a normal flow of water. When the water should be controlled, the gates will drop, and release small, calculated amounts of water at a time.

1,000 yards up-stream, there is a debris boon, which prevents debris from clogging up the conduits (where the gates are held). It prevents 90% of debris from passing through the dam, and is cleared out once a year.

The Mt. Morris dam has prevented over $1 billion in damages to date, and even when there are no particularly strong storms in the area, it is still working to protect us from floods. An impressive feat, to say the least!

Written by Teddi Shapiro, class of 2019

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