Steer Clear of Dam Dangers

Be aware that #WaterWins when you’re around a dam, powerhouse or lock.

Dams can release a large amount of water with little warning at any time and by any means. For example, when the demand for electricity is high, the turbines at a dam activate, resulting in a significant increase in water downstream in a matter of seconds.

More water creates a deeper river with stronger currents. Even a few inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet. The water can rise quickly, hiding potential dangers under the surface.

Releasing water through the sluiceways—outlets at the base of the dam—can also create a swell of water downstream.

During flood operations, spillway gates across the dam can be opened to release upstream flood water that needs to pass to the next downstream reservoir. Upstream or downstream, even the most experienced boater with the strongest motor is no match for this strong flow of water plunging over a spillway of a dam. The recirculating current can pull a powerful boat far upstream toward plunging water that could shred any boat.

And dams equipped with navigation locks create turbulent water, as well. When vessels pass through, strong flow is released near the exhaust ports of the wing wall of the lock.


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