Itaipu Dam, Paraguay
Itaipu Dam, photo: Itaipu Binancional
Itaipu dam obstructs the Paraná River
Canyon Reservoir. Photo: Ron Terpening
Glen Canyon and bridge downstream.
Photo: Ron Terpening
Hoover Dam with Lake Mead (top) and the tamed Colorado River (bottom).
Photo: Bureau of Reclamation
Grand Coulee Dam. Photo: Bureau
Yellowtail Dam, Montana (small, but worth a quick look)
Photo: Entidad Binacional Yacyretá
Dams Around the World
One of the protagonists in Tropic
of Fear, Walter
Stanek, is a hydrogeologist, in Paraguay to conduct an environmental impact
study on the proposed Corpus Christi dam, planned for the Paraná River
between Itaipu and Yacyretá dams. Itaipu dam is equivalent in height
to a 65-story building (196 meters). The volume of earth excavated for the
dam was 8.5 times that of the Eurotunnel (between France and England) and it
has 15 times as much concrete.
The Itaipu dam, a joint Paraguayan-Brazilian project,
began production in 1985.
claims that Itaipu is the world's largest dam, although the Chinese
might disagree with them. Here are some comparable data:
|12,600 MW installed power
||18,200 MW installed power
|93.4 billion kWh/year
||84.68 billion kWh/year
|196 meters in height
||181 meters in height
|7,700 meters in length
concrete, rockfill and earth
|2,309 meters in length
spillway discharge capacity
in square meters:
|4 million people resettled
||1.1 million people resettled
Three Gorges Dam, China. Photo Dr. Kamran M. Nemati
discussion of dams can ignore Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona and Edward Abbey's
novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. One of the book's memorable scenes depicts
Seldom Seen Smith kneeling on top the dam and praying for an earthquake
to destroy the dam and unplug the Colorado River.
Glen Canyon before the dam
Glen Canyon Dam. Photo: Ron Terpening
dam, located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas on the border between Arizona
and Nevada, was built from 1931-1936. Completed two years ahead of schedule,
the dam is the second highest in the United States (at 726.4 feet). The
dam is 660 feet at its base and 45 feet thick at the crest, containing
a total of 4.36 million cubic yards of concrete. Over
100 workers died in the construction of the dam and its four diversion
The dam's 17 main turbines generate 2,074 megawatts of power, much of
which is transmitted the 266 miles to Los Angeles.
of Fear, the protagonist's father and grandfather both worked on Grand Coulee
Dam, which is the largest in the United States.
Photo: Ron Terpening
Located in the state of Washington
(28 miles northwest of Coulee City and 82 west of Spokane), Grand Coulee
Dam generates power from the Columbia River.
large dams around the world, each with its own claim to fame, include
•Grande Dixence (Switzerland)
•Kishau Tehri (India)
•Inguri (Republic of Georgia)
But the dam I will conclude with is another one in Paraguay, the Yacyretá,
which is co-owned by Paraguay and Argentina and is located upstream on
the Paraná River. Completed in 1999, the dam is not yet generating at
full capacity, generating 2,700 megawatts. The reservoir will only reach
its intended height in 2008.
have built dams since at least the third millennium B.C. Today, approximately
500 new dams are constructed around the world every year. Tropic of Fear
deals in part with the effects of these dams on the environment.