"Dam Engineer"

So, I'm sure a lot of you all wonder what exactly I do as a "Dam Engineer." While I was on a trip for work and had some extra time to write a bit about some of the things that I do. Side note, (this is Jeff by the way). I work for the Department of the Interior under the Bureau of Reclamation (yes I am one of those Federal employees). But before you get all worked up and start planning a sit-in at my house, hear me out. The Bureau of Reclamation is one of the few Bureaus that actually makes money for our bloated government. I will now shamelessly copy and paste a link to a sight that has short history of the Bureau of Reclamation. Feel free to skip to the pictures if you get board easily.


If you’re so inclined you can check out the link in that article on Grand Coulee. I will be talking more about this project later. I started working for USBR in November of last year. I am in the Power Operation and Maintenance group. Most of the other engineers in the group are Electrical engineers, including my boss. I am replacing the Mechanical engineer that retired three years ago. I’m not sure how they got along without me for so long. ;) Someone had to snap them out of their imaginary number lala land. Any who, technically I am not a “Dam Engineer.” I would be better described as a Power Engineer, but if you really want too, you can call me what you will. I work with the turbines and generators and moving mechanical stuff that are behind the dam.

So, what am I doing right now? I am at Grand Coulee (look it up), it is the largest power producing dam in North America. They are having some issues with the shaft seals on two of the pump generators and apparently I am the one to call. Really I think they didn’t really have anyone left so they’re stuck with me. Everything is big here at Coulee. It’s easy to get lost and daunting at times trying to figure out how to fix something, but really fun for me. I took some pictures and I will add them along with some captioning. Hope you enjoy.

Some of the piping I am working on calculating the flow and presure. Its for the P/G-8 shaft seal cooling water.

This is the turbine pit in P/G-7. It’s all tore apart to repair the shaft seal. At the very bottom is the top of the turbine/impeller.

Another pic of P/G-7. It’s hard to tell how big the shaft is without seeing it there. This shaft is about 3ft in diameter. It’s connected to the generator/motor. Depending on whether it is making power or pumping water up to a higher reservoir.

Looking down the gallery that’s down in the turbine pit, in the Pump Generator House.

On the Pump Generator floor. Closest to me is pump 1-6, then there is Pump/Generators 7-12 beond that. And this is the small plant. The 3rd power plant is at least twice as big.

A diagram of the P/G's. Not sure if your going to be able to read the caption.

This is a gallery that I got a bit lost in.

The down stream side of Grand Coulee Dam. Its hard to tell how big it is even if you are there in person.

The "Dam Engineer." Thats right I have my dam saftey glasses on!


Jeff, I loved your blog! I miss you so much already. It has always been a bit technical for me. I need a book, "turbine, hydropower, shaft.. for dummies." I am proud of my dam engineer husband!
Stephanie said…
I loved your post. It was entertaining and informative.
Lynne said…
Thanks for sharing what you do! Loved the pictures.