Hoover Dam was constructed in Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the common state boundary of Arizona and Nevada. As one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of all time, Hoover Dam was constructed and is operated by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. This huge structure was begun in 1931, and the Dam and Power Plant were completed in 1936.
Hoover Dam is massive, not only from the standpoint of engineering techniques, but in the far-flung impacts and results which have accrued to the economy of the United States Southwest region.
Hoover Dam rises 726.4 feet above bedrock, equivalent to a 60-story building. The base of the dam is 660 feet thick, equivalent to the length of two city blocks. It is 45 feet thick at the crest, and the length of the crest from canyon-wall to canyon-wall, is 1,244 feet, nearly one-quarter of a mile.
The primary purpose of the Dam is to control the waters of the Colorado River during the flood periods eliminating yearly threat of flood damage to the fertile regions below the Dam. Secondarily, the Dam and Lake Mead (which it impounds) provide storage of the annual runoff of the Colorado River, thereby assuring a stable water supply for irrigating hundreds-of-thousands of acres of land in southern California and southwest and central Arizona.
In addition, while serving all its major purposes of a) flood control, b) improvement of navigation, and c) regulating the flow to provide storage for the orderly release of impounded water to supply irrigation and domestic uses, hydroelectric power is generated to assist in the repayment of the Dam’s construction, with interest, and provide the financial means to provide for annual operation, maintenance and repair of the facilities.
Presently, Hoover Dam can produce over 2,000 megawatts of capacity and a yearly average generation of 4.5 billion kilowatt hours to serve the annual electrical needs of nearly 8 million people in Arizona, southern California, and southern Nevada.
For more detailed information on Hoover Dam, go to the Bureau of Reclamations web site.