Saturday, October 6, 2012


Water must fall in order to generate power from a stream. In most cases the fall is enhanced and increased by constructing a dam which creates a head. (The head is the vertical distance from the surface of the water at the dam down to the water in the stream below where the turbine is located.) The higher the dam or head, the greater the power a given amount of water will produce. A dam also provides a storage basin to regulate stream flow and thereby increases power potential.

Before pursuing dam construction further, you should consider these points:

1.      The construction of a dam is a highly technical undertaking. You need to collect extensive field data to choose the best site and design a safe dam. A professional engineer can best advise you on construction of a safe dam for your particular site.

2.      Find out what permits are required if a stream is to be impounded. Laws vary from state to state: some are lenient; some are very stringent. Your state environmental conservation office should be able to supply you with the necessary information.

3.      Be aware that you must control all land to be flooded.

4.      In the event of dam failure, you will be responsible for all downstream damage. Your insurance underwriter may be able to advise you on the availability of liability insurance.

5.      You must respect the rights of others to stream use outside of your property.

6.      You may be faced with resistance from nearby landowners and conservation-minded groups or individuals.

7.      Obtain solid cost estimates for the dam construction. Costs vary widely, depending on the particular site, but it is reasonable to assume that the construction of any worthwhile dam will run to several thousand dollars. Will the capital outlay for construction be justified by the long term benefits of an installation?

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