Skip to main content

Utah Water Research Lab Team Constructs Scale Model of Oroville Spillway

Tuesday, Jun. 06, 2017


Oroville Dam
Chief engineer Michael Johnson

Chief engineer Michael Johnson has been involved with engineering efforts at Oroville Dam. He specializes in fluid mechanics and experimental hydraulics and says the dam model, built at the UWRL, will provide useful information about hydraulic conditions in and around the damaged spillway.


Chief engineers Michael Johnson and Zachary Sharp

Chief engineers Michael Johnson (right) and Zachary Sharp worked with a team of 15 engineers and technicians to construct the working model in just 40 days.


Engineers at Utah State University’s Utah Water Research Laboratory have constructed a 1:50 scale model of the Oroville Dam spillway.

Chief engineers Michael Johnson and Zachary Sharp worked with a team of 15 engineers and technicians to construct the working model in just 40 days.

The 100-foot-long, 60-foot-wide model replicates the spillway in its current state and features the terrain conditions that were formed following the damaging flow events in February.

Johnson, who specializes in fluid mechanics and experimental hydraulics, says the model will provide useful information about hydraulic conditions in and around the damaged spillway. He and his team are currently taking measurements on various sections of the model to determine depth of flows, wave action, pressures, velocity profiles and more.

“Our goal is to assist the design team in California in making the best decisions moving forward with data from the model,” said Johnson. “Data from the model will provide useful information that will help engineers there make better-informed decisions about repair and replacement.”

This is the second time a Utah Water Research Lab team has been involved with engineering efforts at Oroville Dam. Johnson helped design an engineering solution that improves the river valve outlet system in low-level reservoir conditions. His work helped alleviate the effects of drought from 2014-2016.

About the Utah Water Research Lab: The Utah Water Research Laboratory at Utah State University conducts practical research in Utah, the nation and the world, directed at solving water-related problems, informing water policy and management, and training the next generation of water experts.

Quick facts:

  • Oldest and largest of the 54 university-based US water centers
  • Annual research expenditures between $8 and $12 million
  • Faculty + staff + students, about 200 people work at the UWRL
  • 113,000 square-feet of floor space
  • World-class hydraulics and environmental quality lab facilities
  • Between 250 and 300 active contracts and grants at any time
  • Research/training activities in all 29 Utah counties, approximately 10 other states, and typically in one or more foreign countries

Link to media library 

Media Contacts:
Michael Johnson: michael.johnson@usu.edu | Phone: 435-797-3176
Matt Jensen: Public Relations Specialist, USU College of Engineering | matthew.jensen@usu.edu office: 435-797-8170 | cell: 801-362-0830 | @EngineeringUSU | engineering.usu.edu
 





Add new Comment

We welcome your response. Your comment or question will be forwarded to the appropriate person. Please be sure to provide a valid email address so we can contact you, if needed. Your submission will NOT be published online. Thank you.

More News

All news


Subscribe

Utah State Today is available as a weekly e-mail update, with links to news, features, and events. Subscribers stay connected, whether on campus or off.

To receive Utah State Today every week, simply enter your e-mail address below.


Unsubscribe here.

Visit our social media hub

Visit our social media hub to see a snapshot of student life and find more USU social media accounts.


Learn more About USU