POWERSITE, Mo - After more than 90 years in operation, the first hydro-electric dam west of the Mississippi is getting some attention. The Ozark Beach Dam was long overdue for some improvement; they have added flood gates that they can open and close.
Most newer hydro-electric dams like the Table Rock Dam already have them. Empire Electric who owns the Ozark Beach Dam says the new gates will give them more control on water levels in Lake Taneycomo.
"Built in 1913, this was the first one built for hydro generation and for some time it was the biggest one in the state. It was one of the first 66-thousand volt lines that had ever been used. There was quite a few firsts for it," says plant manager Tom Snyder.
And earlier this month for its first time; the Ozark Beach Dam; better known as the Powersite Dam, could open and close its new gates to control water levels upstream. "Something those gates will allow us to do that we haven't ever been able to do is we can lower those gates as we see those floods happening and be able to pass that water more efficiently," says Snyder.
Which Plant Manager Tom Snyder says is better than what the dam used to have. "All they were was 4 inches of plywood with 2&1/2 inch pipe holding them up. There you can see the 4 inch plywood with 2&1/2 inch pipe behind it; that's what the old flash board system was," says Snyder.
Which can't hold up to high water of recent years. "When there's a lot of water coming out of Table Rock, we have to get out and take those flash boards off. We had floods in '08, then again in '08, and then a flood here in '11, and really had pretty high water in '09. We've had to replace them 4 times in the last 6,7 years," says Snyder.
Snyder says the new gates will give Empire Electric a little more money, and more peace of mind. "It cost us about 40-thousand dollars to replace flash boards; there always was a safety issue dealing with pulling flash boards off and getting back up and putting flash boards on," says Snyder.