Volume 4 Issue 7 Jul/Aug

Forging the Future of Water Power

By Kris Polly

The United States and the world continue to benefit from the large hydropower dams built in the early 20th century. Among the challenges of the 21st century, however, are maintaining that legacy fleet and developing the water power technologies of the future. In our cover story, we speak with Miguel Rocha, the chief of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Dam Safety Office, which oversees

Reclamation’s 361 high-hazard potential dams. Mr. Rocha gives us a detailed look at how the office helps make sure that the nation’s major hydro facilities continue to operate safely.

Next, we speak with Elaine Buck and Tim Ramsey, who work in the marine energy program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office. Marine energy is a fast-growing, cutting-edge field, and as Ms. Buck and Mr. Ramsey tell us, it has the potential to support the maritime blue economy as well as to eventually provide grid-scale energy.

We also feature two other entities supporting research and development in the marine energy sphere. First, we speak with Shana Hirsch, the codirector of the Pacific Marine Energy Center, a consortium of universities that is one of four National Marine Energy Centers in the United States. Then, we speak with Samantha Quinn, the program director of the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust.

Alden Research Laboratory, the oldest continuously operating flow modeling consultancy in North America, does hydraulic modeling work for dams, spillways, water conveyance structures,
and more. Now part of nationwide consulting firm Verdantas, it also provides environmental engineering work focusing on fish passage and protection. We speak with three senior staff about Alden’s many services for hydropower clients.

Perhaps surprisingly, reservoirs can be a major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Open Hydro is a company that helps hydropower owners and operators measure and mitigate their reservoirs’ emissions, manage data, and compile reports. We speak with cofounders Cristina Diez Santos and María Ubierna Aparicio about how the hydropower industry can be a leader for the entire water sector.

Ensuring that existing hydropower dams and reservoirs operate safely and efficiently and developing the new water power technologies of the future are two sides of the same coin. I salute all the hydropower professionals carrying out and supporting this work, which will stand our nation and world in good stead in years to come.

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Hydro Leader magazine and the president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.