What makes Hoover Dam so famous

The economic importance of the Hoover Dam

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2. General data
2.1. Hoover Dam
2.2. Lake Mead
2.3. Colorado River

3. The construction
3.1. Construction
3.2. Problems with construction

4. The economic importance
4.1. Water supply
4.2. power supply
4.3. Flood protection
4.4. tourism
4.5. Traffic route
4.6. miscellaneous
4.6.1. job
4.6.2. Cities
4.7. Conclusion

5. Appendix
5.1. bibliography
5.2. glossary
5.3. epilogue

1 Introduction

In the United States of America, the Hoover Dam was built in 1931-1935, which then as now is known as the construction of the century.

Even if, as I noticed during my work, this dam is not very well known in Germany, it is still one of the most important structures in its area, even though it is now over 75 years old.

Therefore, in the following work, I will present the economic importance of the Hoover Dam, which is ascribed to it today as it was then.

However, the ecological sustainability of the Hoover Dam is not considered or included in this work, which was far too insufficiently considered for today's conditions.

The reasons for creating exactly this work are mainly in my own interest in the United States of America, which has already brought me to some earlier work in this area. I became aware of this topic in particular through the N24 documentation "The Hoover Dam", which deals less with the economic significance, but nevertheless draws a comparison between the original construction and the construction of an economically equivalent dam that is conceivable today.

2. General data

2.1. Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam lies exactly on the border of the US states Arizona and Nevada in the valley of the Black Canyon. This 221.46 meter high and 201 meter thick dam dams the Colorado River to Lake Mead. The cost of this immense structure, built from 1931-1935, was around $ 49 million. There are 17 generators in his generator house, which today deliver 2080 megawatts after an interim conversion to increase output. The Hoover Dam has a volume of 2.6 million cubic meters and connects not only 2 US states, but also their different time zones through the road that runs on the 379.2 meter long and 14 meter wide crown.

2.2. Lake Mead

Lake Mead was only created by damming the Colorado River with the help of the Hoover Dam. Its storage volume is 35.1 billion cubic kilometers, making it the largest reservoir in the United States. At maximum damming, Lake Mead has a water surface of 639 square kilometers, a length of approximately 170 kilometers and a maximum depth of 180 meters. Furthermore, it is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which serves as a nature reserve and recreation area.

2.3. Colorado River

The Colorado River stretches 2,333 kilometers in length from Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to its confluence with the Gulf of California. However, it rarely reaches this because the Colorado River is the most important river for water supply in the southwest of the USA and is dammed by 10 dams. Its catchment area is 703,132 square kilometers and its mean flow rate of 620 cubic meters per second is only a third of the comparable volume of the Rhine.

3. The construction

3.1. Construction

After its completion, the Hoover Dam was considered the "Eighth Wonder of the World"[1] and as a "demonstration object for modern dam construction"[2] ; These two statements show the very progressive construction method for 1935, which made it possible to build the highest barrier structure in the world until 1945.

The Hoover Dam was only one of the three dams in the overall "Boulder Canyon" project and is built according to the principle of an arch weight dam. In addition, the then still new method of fiberglass reinforcement was used to make the structure even more stable. One can even generally say that the Hoover Dam was designed for maximum stability. 6 million tons of concrete were used in its construction, which was further reinforced with steel and fiberglass mesh. The dam was not concreted in one piece, but in many trapezoidal, 1.5 meter high blocks. This was necessary because otherwise the concrete would have become much too hot in such a size during the hardening, when concrete normally already gets warm, and the hardening would therefore have taken a very long time. In addition, copper pipes were concreted in each of the blocks, in which cold water circulated for further cooling.

3.2. Problems with construction

Choosing a location: Initially, two locations on the Colorado River turned out to be suitable for the construction of the dam, on the one hand the Boulder Canyon, which the government favored, and on the other hand the Black Canyon. The locations were determined based on three key factors:

1. The nature of the rock walls, which have to withstand the water pressure
2. The creation of the largest possible storage capacity of the resulting reservoir
3. A minimal distance from infrastructure and population centers, which should minimize the problems of material and manpower procurement.

It was only during a detailed second investigation that it was found that the Black Canyon performed better than the Boulder Canyon in all three criteria.

Construction: To make construction possible, the entire Colorado River first had to be diverted so that the construction site was drained. For this purpose, two tunnels with a diameter of 17 meters and a length of 1.2 kilometers were carved out of the rock on each side. In addition, railways and roads were built into the rock to move material into the river bed.

Water evaporation: If the dam had been built even higher, the resulting increase in size of the reservoir would no longer have been efficient, since too much water would have evaporated in the hot desert summers due to the extremely large water surface.

Working conditions: Due to the difficult working conditions such as heat, lack of food, heavy physical work and initially poor housing and sanitary facilities, 96 of the workers died during construction.

4. The economic importance

4.1. Water supply

One of the most important meanings given to the Hoover Dam is the water supply that can be sustained by the lake, Lake Mead, which it has dammed up. Because without this huge water reservoir, many of the “desert cities” such as Las Vegas would not exist. Las Vegas gets 90% of its water from Lake Mead. But Los Angeles and many other cities also draw water from the reservoir to meet the residents' need for drinking water. In total, Lake Mead alone supplies 18 million people with fresh drinking water, which is essential for survival. Lake Mead stores enough water to supply Colorado with water for two years, but this water reservoir is by no means inexhaustible, like John A. Zebre[3] especially against the background of the daily increasing demand for water with a finite water reservoir correctly says.

This also justifies the need for emergency plans, which are in place in order to trigger water-saving measures in the event of an excessive drop in the reservoir level, with the result that, for example, fountains are switched off and car washing is prohibited in order to ensure the drinking water supply of the people who live in Lake Mead supplied to be able to ensure. The plans, which once again underline the economic importance, were due to the current "drought"[4] that has lowered Lake Mead's reservoir by approximately 40% since 2000. This is now driving up water prices in the region and the farmers, who also use the water from Lake Mead for irrigation, which is the second largest consumption, can hardly be sure of their future if the "drought" persists. That is why many water managers in this region are already trying to develop new water sources in order to be able to secure the supply in the future and to minimize the economic dependence on the reservoir, which should currently be almost 100%.

Figure not included in this excerpt[5] In this diagram, the Lake Mead water level is shown in feet[6] ) from its construction until today; there are also certain levels[7] drawn.

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[1] Quote from N24 documentation: "The Hoover Dam"

[2] Quote from N24 documentation: "The Hoover Dam"

[3] “We have a very finite resource and demand which increases and enlarges every day,” said John A. Zebre, a Wyoming lawyer and the president of the Colorado River Water Users Association. –NY Times

[4] Actually, one cannot speak of a drought here, since in comparison there has only been an excessive amount of rain in the last 100 years and now average rainfall is recorded again

[5]http://www.arachnoid.com/NaturalResources/image.php?mead

[6] 1 foot = 0.3048 meters

[7] Maximum-maximum congestion level; Average average level; Drough level below which there is talk of a drought; Critical Shortage Level-Below this level, emergency measures become active