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A contract worker watches as a crane moves a 1,200-ton rotor as part of McNary Lock and Dam's stator winding replacement near Umatilla, Ore. in August 2010.

A contract worker watches as a crane moves a 1,200-ton rotor as part of McNary Lock and Dam's stator winding replacement near Umatilla, Ore. in August 2010. (Photo by Brandon Frazier)

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Power-generating units at Lower Granite Lock and Dam near Pomeroy, Wash. in February 2010. The powerhouse has six 135,000-kilowatt units.

Power-generating units at Lower Granite Lock and Dam near Pomeroy, Wash. in February 2010. The powerhouse has six 135,000-kilowatt units. (Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

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Posted 3/29/2013

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By Bruce Henrickson
Walla Walla District


WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- In the Pacific Northwest, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers produces significant hydroelectric power for the nation at its dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Hydroelectric power is clean, reliable, efficient, flexible, renewable and sustainable. The Corps of Engineers is the Nation's largest producer of hydropower, and one of the largest in the world.

The Corps operates 75 hydropower facilities, producing one-fourth of the Nation's hydropower. That's a 100 billion kilowatt-hours annually, enough to power more than 10 million homes.

Hydropower is a sustainable power source. It's part of the Corps' and Nation's "Going Green" effort. It can be used now, and in the future, in an environmentally friendly way. Hydropower is people and nature co-existing in productive harmony.

Water flowing through one generator creates more power at downriver dams, again and again. Once that water gets to the ocean, it evaporates and recycles itself as clouds, then rain or snow falling in watersheds, where it generates even more power.

As it produces sustainable hydroelectric energy, the Corps is also a good environmental steward, helping increase and recover populations of migrating endangered or threatened fish species by reducing risks of powerhouses to migrating fish. Initially, Corps dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers were constructed with fish ladders to help adult salmon and steelhead swim upstream.

More recent cutting-edge Corps fish research led to innovative fish bypass systems at the dams to help juvenile fish survive as they migrate downstream. They include spillway weirs, surface bypass channels, turbine screens, modified spill operations, and barge transportation of migrating juvenile fish. Annual fish returns to their spawning grounds have increased significantly in recent years. Corps fish recovery efforts are working.

On every Earth Day, remember hydropower is essential to our nation's success, and to its sustainable future.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers strives to protect, sustain, and improve the natural and human-made environment of our nation, and is committed to compliance with applicable environmental and energy statutes, regulations, and Executive Orders. Sustainability is not only part of the Corps' decision processes, but is also part of its culture.

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