What Are the Costs and Benefits of Damming a River?
ESU401  Hydroelectric Power

The power plant at the bottom of Glen Canyon Dam houses eight turbines. Using the same basic concept as old-fashioned water wheels built beside streams, water released from the dam turns these turbines to generate electricity.

Revenues from selling electricity have totally paid off the construction costs of the dam. The amount of water released through the dam is directly related to the demand for electricity from the power plant. When more electricity is needed, more water is released.

  !   Move your cursor over the image to reveal a graph of river discharge below the dam. Examine the graph to see how demand for electrical power changes through the day and through the week.

Consider the overall impact of Glen Canyon Dam for providing hydroelectric power. In the chart on your student answer sheet, use a scale from -2 to +2 to indicate your evaluation of the dam with respect to providing hydroelectricity.


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