Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011UT154B

Reducing the Dangers of Low Head Dams in Utah

Institute: Utah
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $42,064 Total Non-Federal Funds: $44,905

Principal Investigators: Michael Johnson, Steven Barfuss

Abstract: Each year, hundreds of drowning deaths occur when people in canoes, kayaks, and rafts try to float over low-head dams and become captured in the “hydraulic”, which is a sort of turbulent, submerged hydraulic jump that often forms downstream of such structures. Many deaths have occurred in Utah, with approximately 50 reported on the Jordan River, alone, including two in 2010. Efforts to warn the recreating public who use these surface water resources have proved to be ineffective. Very little research has been conducted on this problem. The proposed work will survey and summarize the extent of the problem in the US and identify the most common types of structures and conditions that lead to hazardous conditions. For those most common types of hazard, the research will identify and evaluate potential structural solutions to the hazards using physical models and modeling approaches from computational fluid dynamics. The results of this work will yield potential solutions that are effective and relatively inexpensive.