November 4, 2009

Coming Into The Light

Welcome to the fourth and last part of our tour of Holyoke's green power system.  In our first post, we described Holyoke and its green power system. In our second post, we looked at electric water wheels in the basement of a mill building. In our third post, we went inside the actual wheels and out the tailrace. So here we are down in the canal!

Holyoke Gas and Electric (our municipal electricity provider and the operators of the dam and canal) once used the canal system 'down time' as an opportunity to dredge the canals.  However, with the advent of the endangered species act, even though the canals are man-made structures and waterways (as opposed to a river/stream. etc)  HG&E is no longer allowed to completely drain the canals OR dredge the canals because an endangered mussel species found it's way into the canal bed. That's why you still see a little water in the photos below.

We saw lots and lots of empty mussel shells and one or two live ones.  WE DID NOT TOUCH/DISTURB/BREATHE ON/DISLODGE/TICKLE OR IN ANY OTHER WAY HARASS ANY ENDANGERED OR NON-ENDANGERED MUSSEL OR OTHER BI-VALVE. 
 The photo above shows seven of the original 13 operating mechanical wheel tailraces.  As I've said in previous posts, two electric water wheels remain operational.

Climbing the sediment in a non-operating tailrace.
Everyone needs a hand now and then.


Um.. Ladies?  May I suggest using the ladder?

Dearest reader, I hope you've enjoyed the tour!

7 comments:

  1. Wow! What cool pictures. I'm always fascinated going down into places like that.

    Thanks for stopping by on my SITS day!

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  2. Neat photos! How long does the canal stay drained? If you can't dredge or clean it out, won't it eventually fll up with sediment?

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  3. Popping in from SITS to say hello!
    What great pics!

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  4. Hey Mattenylou! The Canals are down for five days twice a year (in the spring and in the fall) for a total of ten 'down' days annually. The dam is active 24/7/365, though. So it's only the hydro on the canals that are off.

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  5. I loved this series. You made that green power plant sing with those photos.

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  6. I love learning about where other people live. These 4 posts were really interesting - thanks for sharing them. I love green power systems. You are very fortunate to live in such a place. By the way, I love the boots!

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  7. I was expecting a home tour and was slightly disappointed that it was a boring water system tour. Then I got sucked in. Looks like it wasn't so boring after all! You sure showed me!! These pics are really cool! Slowly making my way around your blog...

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