Left In Lowell

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April 18, 2012

Wanna Screw With Enel & Their Bladder Dam?

by at 12:43 pm.

.
Do what these folks did:

Photobucket

I’ve heard a few “important” Lowellians opine that the desecration of the Pawtucket Falls Dam is a done deal. Really? Well, for sure, if Lowellians roll over.

What if we were to mimic the grassroots resistance to the Billerica Power Plant? WHAT Billerica Power Plant, you ask? … The conspicuously absent one, my friends. ;v)

Grassroots activism can make the difference:

This development is significant, said Fitzpatrick, because it could remove the Billerica Energy Center from ISO New England’s waiting list to provide electricity to the region. ISO New England is the organization that operates the regional power grid.

We’ve communicated (to ISO-New England) we are no longer actively developing the project,” said Fitzpatrick.

You can study up on some of the finer points, here on Left in Lowell. Also, the “www..stopthebillericapowerplant.org” is still up. (a bunch of the links are effectively dead.)

Maybe you don’t care about flood victims? I do.
Maybe you don’t care about our City’s history and the social compact we have forged celebrating it? I do.
Maybe, you are just a cantankerous cuss, who gets off on sticking it to the “important” people hanging out at “Club Scratch-My-Back?” That works for me, too.

STOP THE BLADDER DAM

PS. I don’t think “Bladder Watchers” would be a good name. Though some older Lowellians may relate easier. Enel has an alias of “Boott-Hydro,” so “Bootty Watchers” is plausible. Too pervy?

14 Responses to “Wanna Screw With Enel & Their Bladder Dam?”

  1. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Jack there is a big difference between stopping the construction of a non-existing power plant, and stopping the improvement to an existing structure.

    I do like “Bootty Watchers”. LOL

  2. Jack Says:

    Yes, Enel does not have to open their permit by pulling this stunt. If they did it would be a can of worms for them.

    If, by “improvement” you mean not allowing any water to come over the bladder dam, thus creating a silent stone & steel barricade; that will increase the groundwater elevations of my neighbors private property? Thus, requiring more of my neighbors to buy flood insurance? That sort of “improvement?”

    Yep.

  3. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    “Improvement” is a real estate term.

    As for the bladder dam not allowing any water to pass over the dam, have you ever seen the Merrimack River?

    The bladder dam is not going to be any taller than the wood that is there now and water routinely passes over that!

    Right now mother nature controls when that wood gives way thus allowing more water to pass over the dam, with the bladder dam the stroke of a keyboard would do it and as I understand it, if there were a power failure the bladder would automatically deflate allowing the maximum amount of water to pass over the dam…more water than could ever happen now since not all of the wood barriers fail.

    It really is time for you to look at both sides of the argument before grabbing a pitchfork and a burning torch and storming the castle to kill the monster.

  4. Joe S. Says:

    For Enel, this comes down to money. The bladder dam would be a large investment (any taxpayer funds to help that along?), but there would be at least two long-term savings - less maintenance to repair the dam after a high-water event, and a quicker recovery to a full head of water after the dam had been lowered due to the high water. The latter has to a concern to the upstream residents, as the natural period for drainage would be significantly reduced. If Enel were to compromise and leave the dam down, say for a month or so, that would be contrary to one of the benefits they need to justify the investment. No amount of camouflage will answer that conundrum.

    If the bladder dam cost $5M, how much would the City want in added property tax? Has that been included in the financial equation?

  5. Jack Says:

    I’ve heard speculation that Enel’s construction costs would be subsidized by taxpayers, in some fashion. Whether it is the Feds giving them a green energy related grant or tax deferral; or the City playing footsie, so they can get Enel to fix the bridges and infrastructure currently under their stewardship? Bailouts abound.

    Of course, what is ignored in all of this green goodness is the costs of operation ramrodded onto the neighbors and agencies, like MEMA & FEMA.

    I wonder if the City Council could have the CM do a damage assessment of the Mother’s Day Flood? Or, maybe, damage claims for the last 10 years, plotted annually?

    I’m also curious if there is any ground water levels archived by the Water Dept or commercial contruction projects. We could do the forensics, if we really cared enough about this issue.

    It’s not just global warming and overdevelopment in flood plains, as some have suggested.

  6. Magnolia Says:

    If we, the taxpayers, are going to be subsdizing this dam in any way, then may I register my extremely strong objection to the bladder. Those people who think the bladder is a good idea- need to do thir research. Enel has a strong history of not giving a damn ( pun intended) about the people they may hurt. I live over off Princton Blvd near Black Brook. When the river rises into Pawtucketville, it also backs up into Black Brook over here. The damage is no place near what the Pawtucketville folks have to put up with - but we basically have flooded streets and cellars from Cornell Street to the High S bridge. Most of the people that I know feel that trusting Enel to lower the bladder when needed us a pipe dream. They are in it for the profit and to H - E e double hockey sticks with the rest of us.

  7. joe from Lowell Says:

    Right now mother nature controls when that wood gives way thus allowing more water to pass over the dam, with the bladder dam the stroke of a keyboard would do it and as I understand it

    Whose stroke of the keyboard? I’m inclined to trust Mother Nature more at this point.

    You know what would have made people a lot more willing to listen? Thirty years of clean canals. Just sayin’.

  8. Joe S. Says:

    The flashboard design has already been compromised by the use of plywood panels instead of horizontal boards and appropriately sized steel pins. If the Interior Department is serious about historical integrity, and a better flood control design, they should not only deny the bladder dam but should force the return to the true flashboard (and pin) design.

    http://www.lowerfarmingtonriver.org/wp-content/uploads/appendix-7-pre-feasibility-study-for-re-powering-collinsville-dams.pdf

  9. Jack Says:

    Thanks for posting, Joe. This is the language that FERC & Enel talk, so choke on the attached report and learn what you can.

    I worked for the firm that produced this report, about a decade ago. Their work will be at or above the “industry standard.” I barely know 2 of the signatories, but they had an excellent reputation when I ran in those circles.

    Read Joe’s attached study, above. Choke it down. This is the sort of thing our City Engineer will need to be versed in, should NPS get railroaded.

  10. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    The second sentence in the executive summary shows that this is an apples to oranges situation:

    “Both dams were originally constructed
    for hydropower but have long since ceased generation.”

    That is not the case here. The Pawtucket Dam has been in continual operation as a commercial power generator since it was completed in the 19th century and the costs associated with the CT project do not apply.

    The major issue that I keep reading over and over again is that people don’t like Enel. Period

  11. Jack Says:

    Maybe more like Cortland to Golden Delicious? The attached report grounds the topic in a sort of techno speak that is conspicuously absent from the wild finger pointing here.

    Which leads me to an important point. Like Enel? Pffft.

    People don’t TRUST Enel. Period.

  12. Joe S. Says:

    What is of note in the document is the stricti adherence to design guidelines when employing flashboards. (Pg 29)

    “Flashboards are typically horizontal boards or a series of boards that are attached to a series of vertical pins which are anchored to the spillway crest. The normal pressure of the water secures the boards against the pins. The pins, which are located on the downstream side of the boards, restrain the boards from passing over the dam. See Figure 3-3.
    Flashboards are, by definition, very carefully designed to fail (or “flash”) when the water surface elevation over the boards reaches a certain limit. During flooding conditions, as the water elevation in the impoundment begins to rise, the hydrostatic pressure on the flashboards begins to rise, leading to increased stress on the vertical pins. At such a point that the water pressure reaches the design limit on the pins, they will “fail” by bending forward (in the downstream direction) and the boards will slide off into the river. When the boards slide off, the control elevation is no longer defined by the elevation of the flashboards but by the elevation of the crest of the spillway.”

    Enel has strayed from these in two ways - the are using plywood panels instead of boards, and they have installed steel retaining pins of greater diameter than specified in the design. In both ways they increase the head pond while putting the upstream residents at greater risk for flooding.

    Good cause for the lack of trust.

  13. Buck Says:

    As one who spends almost every day on the Lowell banks of the river, the danger to those who repair the boards is a problem. We own a local machinery design shop near buy and can easily design a system to remove the hardship and danger. It would not be expensive. Who can we talk to?

  14. Jack Says:

    Either, Enel or Boot Hydro. Unless they use a subcontractor to do the work.

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