May 2019 – Maintaining a minimum flow of fresh water down the lower Hillsborough River has been critical to the recovery and maintenance of this important natural resource. How do you maintain flow when water in the reservoir isn’t high enough to flow over the dam? Until recently, the solution was to use electric powered pumps to move water up and over the dam. This solution was dependent on the reliability of the mechanical pumps. Costs included the purchase of pumps and the electricity to operate the pumps. Recently, an age-old solution replaced this mechanical method.
It’s called a sluice gate. Such a gate was in operation at the dam in the mid-40s, but later removed. When this new gate was recently installed and tested, mathematical equations were used to determine how much water would pass through the gate as the amount of water in the reservoir varied and the various degrees the gate is open. With this information in hand and verified, water managers can now ensure a healthy amount of water flows down the river without relying on electric water pumps. The gate and flow are monitored twenty-four hours per day at a central control room to ensure the lower river continues to enjoy healthy freshwater flows. It is called a sluice gate. Such a gate was in operation at the dam in the mid-40s, but later removed.