|About Us | Water Operations | Programs and Activities | Facilities | News and Photos | Library | Links | Site Index | Home|
Parker Dam spans the Colorado River between Arizona and
California 17 miles northeast of the town for which it is named.
Built between 1934 and 1938 by the Bureau of Reclamation, Parker
Dam is one part of a system of storage and diversion structures
built by Reclamation to control and regulate the once unruly
Parker Dam's primary purpose is to provide reservoir storage from which water can be pumped into the Colorado River (California) and Central Arizona Project Aqueducts. Lake Havasu, the reservoir behind Parker Dam, is about 45 miles long and covers nearly 20,390 acres. It can store 648,000 acre-feet or nearly 211 billion gallons of water.
The Colorado River Aqueduct, a man-made river, was constructed by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and can deliver 1 billion gallons of Colorado River water daily to metropolitan areas in Southern California. The Central Arizona Project, which began pumping water from Lake Havasu in 1985 can divert an average of 1.5 million acre-feet, or 489 billions of gallons from the reservoir each year for delivery to users in central and southern Arizona.
Parker, Davis, and Hoover Dams and their powerplants are under the jurisdiction of the Lower Colorado Dams Area Office located at Hoover Dam. The Department of Energy, through the Western Area Power Administration, markets the hydropower produced by these three powerplants to cities as far away as Los Angeles.
The Dam and Powerplant
Parker Powerplant is located on the California side of the Colorado River immediately below the dam. It houses four hydroelectric generating units. Each unit can produce 30,000 kilowatts of non-polluting hydroelectric power. Four 22-foot diameter pipes called penstocks can each carry up to 5500 cubic feet of water per second to feed the generating units. About 50 percent of the plant's power output is reserved by MWD for pumping water along the Colorado River Aqueduct to the Pacific Coast. The remaining power is marketed by the Western Area Power Administration.
Under the terms of a contract between Reclamation and MWD, and with funds advanced by the latter, excavation for Parker Dam and Powerplant began in October 1934. However, it was not until August 1935 that the Rivers and Harbors Act specifically authorized construction of the dam by the U.S. The dam was completed in September 1938; construction of the powerplant began in July 1939 and was substantially completed in 1942. During construction of the plant, transmission lines and substations of the project were also constructed and put into operation. But because of the onset of World War II, certain features were made with temporary materials or were omitted until proper materials could be made available and installed. Postwar work included replacement of temporary wood supporting structures with permanent steel structures in the substations.
Under an agreement between the Bureau of Reclamation and MWD, the latter agency paid essentially the entire cost of constructing Parker Dam. MWD's Whitsett Pumping Plant, 2 miles upstream from the dam on Lake Havasu, lifts water from the reservoir into the Colorado River Aqueduct.
Colorado River Aqueduct
In September 1931, MWD voters authorized a $220 million bond issue to finance construction of the Colorado River Aqueduct. Construction of the Aqueduct began in 1932. Reclamation, using funds advanced by MWD, began constructing Parker Dam two years later. But it wasn't until June 17, 1941, that the Aqueduct began delivering water from Lake Havasu to the Pacific Coast.
By 1947, the San Diego Aqueduct was placed in service and the benefits of the system were extended to San Diego County. Between 1952 and 1961, the Colorado River Aqueduct was enlarged to its full delivery capacity of 1,212,000 acre-feet of water annually, or roughly 1 billion gallons a day.
The system also includes transmission facilities of the Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP), a system of six major dams and several smaller water development projects that provide multipurpose benefits in the upper Colorado River Basin. CRSP transmission facilities interconnect with the Glen Canyon Powerplant and Pacific Northwest-Pacific Southwest Intertie facilities.
The total system consists of 2200 miles of high-voltage transmission lines serving 48 power substations. The substations located in Arizona, Nevada, and California have a 4,556,835 kilovolt-ampere transformer capacity. That capacity is the equivalent of the electrical power which would be needed to supply about 4.5 million persons, if it were all used at one time. A Central System Dispatching Office in Phoenix, Arizona, is the "nerve center" of the system. This office can direct the flow of some 4.2 billion kilowatt hours of Colorado River hydroelectric energy annually...enough to serve the needs of 500,000 persons for a year.
Central Arizona Project
For Many Uses
It has created a major recreational area in an arid region where large natural bodies of water are nonexistent. Fishing, boating, swimming, and water skiing are some of the pastimes enjoyed by visitors at Lake Havasu. Campgrounds, trailer parks, cabins and boat docks are provided at several locations on the lakeshore for public use. Lake Havasu City, a growing Arizona community, developed after Lake Havasu was created by the dam.
Water conservation, flood control, and recreation development are some of the environmental benefits provided by Parker Dam and Lake Havasu. Wildlife and fish habitats have also benefitted from the construction of this project.
Before Parker, Davis and Hoover Dams, only a few nondescript species of fish with little commercial or recreational value could survive the seasonal changes wrought by the temperamental Colorado. Today, largemouth bass, striped bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and trout inhabit the cool, clear waters of the reservoirs and stretches of river below the dams. At Lake Havasu, a multi-agency Fishery Enhancement Program has helped develop habitat to increase the game fish population.
Topock Marsh, part of the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, is just north of Lake Havasu. The marsh is a major fish and wildlife habitat. When changing water levels threatened to destroy it, Reclamation, in cooperation with the Fish and Wildlife Service, began rehabilitation work in 1965. Today, inlet and outlet structures control the flow of river water into the refuge, and a dike encompassing the marsh has stabilized the water level. Dredge channels in the marsh have improved deeper and cooler water fish habitat. Artificial islands constructed in the marsh have become home to many species of birds and waterfowl.
SELF GUIDED TOURS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE at Parker Dam. However, visitors are welcome to park in the turnout on the California side of the dam and view the major features of the site.
Type: Concrete Arch
Height: 320 feet (97.6 meters)
Crest length: 856 feet (261 meters)
Crest thickness: 39.5 feet (12 meters)
Base thickness: 100 feet (30.5 meters)
Total capacity: 646,200 acre-feet
(797,079,100 cubic meters)
Elevation: 450 feet (137.2 meters)
Reservoir length: 45 miles (72 kilometers)
Area: 20,400 acre-feet or 32 square miles
For more information contact:
|Top of Page | Home|