Hydroelectricity And Dams
Water has proven to be a valuable asset in the production of electricity. The
great need of energy in economical quantity, due to increased industry and
population growth. Hydroelectricity is used worldwide where there is a means and
a need for energy. Hydroelectric dams are very high-tech but simple machines. A
dam holds back water, creating a reservoir of potential power. On the upper side
of the dam, a water gate is opened to let water surge through a tunnel leading
to turbines. The water turns the turbines which in turn spin generators to
generate electricity. The electricity is carried through cables to wherever it
is needed. Oroville Dam is the tallest and one of the largest earthen dams in
the United States; located in Northern California. The dam, completed in 1968,
stands 770 feet high with a crest (top of the dam) 6,920 feet long. Over 80
million cubic yards of material were needed to build Oroville Dam-enough
material to build a two-lane highway around the Earth. The dam\'s inner core is a
layer of clay material which resists seepage. Gold dredger tailings (sand and
gravel left from early gold dredging along the Feather River) make up the
remainder of Oroville Dam. Beneath the dam, a giant cavern (almost as large as
the State Capitol Building) was hollowed out to hold six power generation units.

Coupled with four additional units in the Thermalito Power plant, more than 2.8
billion kilowatt-hours of power are generated annually. Oroville Dam was built
as a multi-purpose project to provide water supply, flood control, power
generation, and fish and wildlife enhancement. A primary purpose of the Dam was
to provide flood control. As the lake fills during heavy rains or large spring
snow melts, waters is carefully released to prevent flooding downstream, saving
both lives and costly property damage. Oroville Dam is a major water storage
facility for the State Water Project . The dam releases an average of 2.8
million-acre feet of its total capacity of 3.5 (MAF). Water deliveries made to

Butte and Plumas County in northern CA and to the lower San Joaquin Valley
(Kern, San Bernadino, King and Riverside Counties) in southern CA is mainly to
irrigate agricultural crops. Eighty-five percent of the water demand in the San

Joaquin Region is for irrigation with twenty-nine percent of the water supply
coming from imported State Water Project deliveries from Lake Oroville. This
imported water is crucial to prevent groundwater supplies from becoming severely
depleted. Additional water supplied by Lake Oroville is delivered to counties to
the South Coast Region. Some of the water is used for environmental concerns.

The water is used to maintain the Feather and Sacramento Rivers and the San

Francisco-San Joaquin delta. The water for the Delta is used to increase the
water quality by lowering the salinity levels. Additionally, the extra water
helps restore the habitat for the Delta Smelt and Chinook salmon. The Powerplant

Control Building is staffed 24 hours a day, above the surface and below.

Authorities in Sacramento communicate with personnel in Oroville on how much
water to be released. Water demands to be met include-agriculture needs, water
quality standards, and environmental concerns. The Earth\'s fuel resources are
diminishing quickly; therefore we must find a cheap fuel substitute quickly. One
of the choices is waterpower, and is a reasonable possibility. Water is a
renewable resource with over 70% of the earth being covered by it. Using it as a
means of energy has proven to be successful and costly. Oroville Dam provides
water and electricity throughout California, playing an important part of the
success of agriculture, water quality, and human needs.