Hydro Dams on the Rock River

Hydro Dams on the Rock River aren’t a bad idea, but the way they are designed is a bad idea. They are designed to maximize power generated in high water, but with low water they run for awhile, then shut off, run, shut off. This causes major fluctuations in the flow and level. Here is an example of what they are doing:

Now at 3000 fps the river is very low and dangerous to navigate, but dropping it below 2000 makes it impossible to run a boat with a jet drive without hitting rocks. Why isn’t this line straight? Why does it fluctuate? Because the hydro dams at Dixon and Rockfalls IL can only run with a strong flow, so they run out of water and have to shut down for a few hours or more. When they shut the generators down, no more water comes through, so the water drops fast. Finally when the water is back up, they start to discharge again and the water comes back up again. In just a couple hours the water can drop so much that boaters can’t get back up river.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is no oversight, no regulators to monitor them, and there needs to be. They could run smaller generators that could run all the time with no fluctuations at all. But since they aren’t being regulated they just don’t care about what happens to the river they are using, or “abusing” would be a more fitting word. It’s not just boaters, but fisherman and fish both suffer when the river drops drastically as it does. It also pollutes the river more with the sewage these sames towns are dumping in the river because there is less water to dilute it.

About Dave Tackett

Dave Tackett is from Sterling Illinois. An avid fisherman since childhood, he has fished all over the Midwest, mainly the Mississippi River pools 8-19. His home waters are pools 13 & 14. After fishing Bass tournaments for many years, he gave it up to fish for Walleye year round. He now guides and fishes for fun. He likes to take photos of the scenic places he visits on the river and likes to keep a video camera running to get footage for his Walleye DVDs. Photography is now where he most of his time working, using professional DSLR cameras and lens. These photos include landscape around the Mississippi River and the Rock River, river birds like eagles heron, egrets etc.
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