Thursday, May 14, 2020

John Day Lock and Dam on the Columbia River

Steven J. Brown posted
BNSF grainer westbound along the Columbia River passing the John Day Dam at Cliffs, Washington - May 9, 2020.
[Note the two towers. More on those later.]

USACE via cbr and gri

It was constructed between 1958 and 1971. [Wikipedia] That makes it the newest dam on the Lower Columbia River. (Bonneville: 1938; The Dalles: 1960; and McNary: 1957) The 1975' long powerhouse holds sixteen 135mw run-of-river turbines for an installed capacity of 2,160mw. The overload capacity is 2,485mw with a hydraulic capacity of 322kcfs. The spillway is 1,228' long with 20 gates. Judging from the photos below of the spillway, the spillway gates are obviously Tainter gates. The pool varies 11' between minimum and full pools. The lock is 86' x 650' with a lift of 113'. [USACE, cbr]  So this is an example of the rare hydropower dam that can generate more electricity than a modern coal-fired power plant. The average yearly output is "29,773,967 MW". (I think the USACE forgot the "h" at the end of the units.) [USACE-facts]
When completed in 1971, the dam contained the second-largest powerhouse in the world; with additional generators, the dam has the potential of producing 2.7 million kilowatts of power.
Current capacity is 2.2 million kilowatts, enough to supply two cities the size of Seattle. A primary function of this dam is also flood control. Its reservoir, Lake Umatilla, can be lowered to provide capacity for half a million acre-feet of water during periods of high runoff. Lake Umatilla extends 76 miles east of John Day, to the base of McNary Dam.

Kaplan Adjustable Turbine, 210,000 horsepower
The building of this dam seems to have harnessed all of the electric power available in the Lower Columbia River. That is, the pool of one dam extends upstream to the base of the next dam. This is to be expected since the river now supports barge traffic.

The lock lift of 113' struck me as high. In fact, at the time of its completion, it was the highest lift in the world. [USACE-lock] They used a lift gate instead of the usual mitre gates for the downstream gate.
USACE-lock, cropped
Dennis DeBruler commented on Steven's post
This is one of the best shots I have seen of the two towers in an overview photo. At 113', this lock has a very high lift. I presume that is why they used a lift sluice gate instead of the usual mitre gates for the downstream side of the lock.
The counterweights are hidden in the columns of the towers. The top of the towers hold a sheave very similar to the sheaves we see in lift bridges. (Designing and constructing the 15' sheaves and their bearings for the pioneering South Branch Bridge was one of the major engineering issues that had to be solved.) It appears the 18' sheaves and gate were replaced during 2009-11. More on that below.

It is obvious that the upstream gate is also not a mitre gate. I assume this gate lowers down under the water to open like the gates of the Lockport and Keokuk locks. I still have not found out why these locks use a lift gate instead of a mitre gate for the upstream gate.

I'm surprised that the bow of the arch doesn't face upstream towards the force of the water.
Brian Stinson, May 2018
There were quite a few photos of the Tainter gates being open in the spillway. This is one of the few photos with all of the gates shut.
Alex Cruz, Feb 2019

By User:Rw rynerson, CC BY 2.5, Link
Depth of John Day Dam pool is illustrated by this 1967 photo showing the new UPRR bridge, with old bridges at sites to be submerged below.

David Gulden posted two photos with the comment: "JOHN DAY LOCK COLUMBIA RIVER WITH HER GAUNTLET GATE." Matthew LeDoux
97 foot lift or drop
Mary Sward Charlton: 103 when the water is full, which is not that often--so much fun to go through. I loved coming through on the drop gate side, and inviting passengers to stand on the top deck with me. The dripping water is "getting baptized by the Columbia." Talented pilots out on the Columbia.

[There are some comments about how they load the grain barge.]
David Gulden posted
another view of lock entrance where i was yesterday.
110 foot lift tallest in the united states
Bob Pointer: how long did it take to fill or lower the chamber?
David Gulden: Bob Pointer i watched yesterday maybe 45 mins or less
Gary Scott: I Wonder if the Hydro Power has enough amperage and power to lift that Gate. I been in several dewatered chambers over the years and lock gates on the Ohio River mainly sit on a ball spindle with all that weight and easily open and close with a Hydraulic Arm. I wonder how heavy that Gate is???
George Vinson: Gary Scott that dam has 16, 135MW generators. Far more than enough.

Tim Johnson commented on David's post

Tim Johnson commented on David's post

Tim Johnson commented on David's post

Tim Johnson commented on David's post

David Gulden posted
its 110 feet tallest lift in north america and has a gauntlet gate not swinging gate
Hubert A Fabacher: David Gulden Wilson, is 93' difference.

Even though this is a relatively new dam, engineers are still learning what the weight and pressure of water can do to bedrock. "John Day Dam on the Columbia River was completed in 1967. [The reservoir was full in 1967. I assume the 1971 completion date was when the last generator unit was installed.] Since that time, there has been physical evidence that the foundation rock beneath the powerhouse and spillway may be deteriorating....GRI directed the drilling and coring of a 240-ft-deep boring through the dam and into the foundation rock to evaluate and locate existing or potentially deleterious foundation materials or groundwater problems and install a reliable long-term foundation and monolith instrumentation system that will monitor minute cyclical deformations." [gri] Unfortunately, I can't find a date for this work nor the results.

Apr 20, 2007: USACE spent $1.5m for a repair but they said a $25-$100m dollar repair is needed. A lock replacement would cost $1 billion. They make it sound like routine maintenance issues, but the lock walls are involved. Concrete walls should last longer than just a few decades. [ArgusObserver] Below I quote a reference that indicates the problems with the high lock walls are due to soft bedrock.

Given the annual output of 29,773,967,000 kwh and assuming 3 cents per kwh, the annual earnings of this dam is almost a billion dollars a year. So they can afford to fix some booboos.

I did some research to find more information on "a major repair to the upper lock gate in 2010" that was mentioned in wikipedia. And to learn more about the "soft foundation" issue. Unfortunately, I was not able to find much information on those topics. But I did find some other repair activities.

In 2008, they repaired an upper gate allision in a few days with a "temporary floating bulkhead." But the permanent repair was done eight months later. 10 million tons are shipped each year. [OregonOnlive-marchOregonOnlive-october] I wonder how the floating bulkhead gate works. "The mishap also underscored the condition of the dam itself, which faces a range of problems, most centered in the navigation lock, and the discovery in recent years that a layer of soft rock below the lock allows its massive 130-foot-high walls to move slightly as water is let in and out." [OregonOnlive-march]
The tow ran into the gate while the lock was filling. [bluefish] They are supposed to tie up to floating mooring bits during the locking operation so I wonder what went wrong.

The USACE site effectively admits with these photos that the sheaves were replaced. I determined this work was done 2009-11.



Not only were the 18' sheaves replaced, so was the 2.5 million pound downstream lift gate. These replacements were done within a 14-week closure. A 660 ton barge crane was used to replace the gate in four sections and a 300 ton crane on the dam was used to replace the sheaves. [advanced-american]
One of 31 photos in advanced-american
One of 31 photos in advanced-american
They had to spend a few million dollars to fix a generator booboo: "John Day Dam Main Unit 6 power generator was in the process of being placed on-line and suffered a three phase stator winding fault in July 2015." [govtribe-unit6]

2015: And they had to spend a few million to fix the dam leaking into the powerhouse. [govtrime-leaking] It is not clear from this article how much this fix would be to stop the leaking vs. putting a better drain in the powerhouse.

Fortunately, I found this article that indicates USACE wants the leaks fixed. 6" holes are to be drilled down through the joints and 175' into the bedrock. Then I gather they are supposed to be filled with grout ("remedial waterstop material"). Or do they use an epoxy or some other stuff instead of grout? [HydroReview]
The holes were filled with expanding grout. The work cost $565,000. The corps had already awarded a $637,269 contract in 2013 to repair failed monolith waterstops. Is fixing waterstops supposed to be routine maintenance? [KnightConst]

As of 2016, this dam is the fifth largest hydropower facility in the United States. The Kaplan turbine hub internals are nearing the end of their design life. Four or five of them were to be rebuilt between 2016-21. This reference indicates the average annual production per turbine is 8,418 GWh. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any photos of a turbine. I still don't know what an adjustable blade looks like and how it is adjusted. [andritz]

No comments:

Post a Comment