Williams Fork Dam valve testing
April 28, 2011
Denver Water will be testing the new valve system at Williams Fork Dam, located about 20 miles west of Granby, May 3 and 4. During the testing, the flow in the Williams Fork River below the dam will fluctuate from about 110 cubic feet per second to about 540 cubic feet per second. Denver Water is coordinating the testing with the Colorado Division of Wildlife in order to protect downstream fisheries.
The new valves were installed earlier this year as part of Denver Water’s two-year, $17 million project to install a new hydro turbine and expand and repair the valve system at Williams Fork Dam.
The dam’s valve system controls the amount of water flowing from the reservoir into the Williams Fork River. After valves are tested and any adjustments are made, the utility will have the ability to release much greater amounts of water than is currently possible. With this year’s heavy snowpack, it will be important to have a fully functional valve system to minimize the amount of water passing over the spillway. A prolonged spill period will inhibit the remaining construction on the downstream side of the dam due to the spray and mud that spilling creates.
The Williams Fork Dam valve system was installed during the dam’s original construction in the 1930s. Making repairs to the building’s aging electrical and mechanical systems, as well as to the 50-year-old valves, will bring the valve system up to current state standards and help it run more efficiently.
Later this year, crews will install a new 0.5 megawatt hydro turbine, which will increase the power plant’s generating capacity to 3.6 megawatts – enough electricity to power about 3,000 homes. The new turbine also will allow Denver Water to generate electricity during the winter, when the release rate from the reservoir historically has been too low to generate power.
The original dam at Williams Fork Reservoir was built in the 1930s. In the mid-1950s, Denver Water raised the dam – building it up to its current height of 209 feet – and installed a hydropower plant at Williams Fork, making it the first hydropower plant in Denver Water’s system.
The construction work should be finished in 2012.