R&D Forum

ASTM forms subcommittee on hydro plant protective coatings

International manufacturing standards group ASTM is launching a new subcommittee to develop and test methods and specifications for coatings and linings used in hydroelectric projects.

The group will be a subcommittee of ASTM’S Committee on Protective Coatings and Lining Work for Power Generation Facilities – also known as D33 – and will focus on abrasion, corrosion, impacts from logs and trees, high water flow environments and more.

ASTM said hydropower plant owners and operators will be the primary users of standards established by the new subcommittee.

Parties interested in joining D33 can contact Joe Hugo at jhugo@astm.org.

Maryland forms commission to study sediment at Conowingo

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the state is forming a multi-agency work group to study ways to reduce sediment reaching Chesapeake Bay. Sediment enters the bay by way of the 53 gates at the 572-MW Conowingo facility on the lower Susquehanna River, from flow in its 9-mile-long reservoir that extends into Pennsylvania.

During a press conference, Hogan said, “Simply put: This is a growing problem. It’s getting worse, and it must be solved.”

Conowingo is a concrete gravity dam that has a maximum height of about 94 ft and a total length of 4,648 ft. Sediment in the 310,000 acre-feet reservoir is at capacity, according to a study this year by the Lower Susquehanna River Watershed Assessment. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates dredging the sediment would cost billions.

The facility, owned and operated by Exelon Corp., is the lowest of a series of dams on the Susquehanna River and the last barrier between much of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the waterway itself.

According to a 2014 U.S. Geological Survey estimate, more than 160 million tons of sediment is behind the Conowingo Dam, built near Darlington, Md., in 1928. About 3 million tons arrive there each year, and about a million tons of that flows over the gates, according to USGS hydrologist Mike Langland.

Published reports indicate public officials took note of the increasing threat to the Chesapeake Bay in 2014 after Tropical Storm Lee produced record flows in the Susquehanna River in September. The amount of precipitation from the storm forced officials to open the sluice gates at the dam, releasing an estimated 4 million tons of sediment in about four days, equaling what the bay normally gets in four years.

Then-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Col. David E. Anderson, commander of the Corps’ Baltimore District, launched a US$1.4 million series of studies to examine how storms could undermine efforts to protect the bay from sediment and other pollution.

Michelle Hummel: Graduating Researcher of the HRF

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of profiles highlighting potential future members of the hydroelectric power industry.

Michelle Hummel is a doctoral student studying environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her master’s degree in environmental engineering and her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Hummel has worked as an intern with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and MWH Global.

She has also researched the impact of forest fires on mercury binding in soils and analyzed the distribution of worldwide regulatory standards for chlorophenol contamination in surface soils. As a student member of Engineers Without Borders, Hummel traveled to the Dominican Republic to assist community members in a rural village with the design and construction of a system to supply clean, safe water to their homes.

She is also a student member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Hummel has completed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and received the designation of Engineer in Training. She is interested in water resources engineering and in finding ways to balance multiple objectives in water management, including increasing water supply reliability, reducing flood risk, maximizing hydropower benefits, and enhancing ecosystem functionality.

Hummel completed her final research report for her Hydro Research Foundation award in early June with the support of Dr. Slawomir Hermanowicz and has been working with Dr. Michael Sale at the Low Impact Hydropower Institute and Dr. Paul Jacobson with the Electric Power Research Institute. Her report, “Restoring Flow Regimens after Dam Construction and Operation: Evidence from Dynamic Systems Theory,” can be found at www.hydrofoundation.org/research-results.html#Hummel.

HRF actively supports graduate students to conduct research related to hydropower. These students are funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Program and industry partners through a two-year grant. To learn more, visit www.hydrofoundation.org.

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