John Day Lock and Dam – 2014 Innovation of the Year

The John Day Main Unit 7 Repair team (From Left to Right): Jesse Alsup, Marshal Waddington, Charles Davidson, Jeff Phillips, Greg Hicks.

The John Day Main Unit 7 Repair team (From Left to Right): Jesse Alsup, Marshal Waddington, Charles Davidson, Jeff Phillips, Greg Hicks. Not Pictured: David Mackintosh, Kellen Shide, Rob Lewis (Photo by Billie Johnson, ACE-IT)

 

Behind the scenes of the impressive John Day Lock and Dam on the Columbia River, a team of dedicated engineers and maintenance staff are hard at work to keep the hydropower turbines humming. It’s a job that can be both challenging and rewarding.

After Main Unit 7 began leaking oil, the design team at John Day Dam began looking for a better solution than pinning the turbine blades. Previous solutions meant disassembling the turbine to replace the O-rings used to seal the oil into its chamber, a four-month job. (Corps of Engineers photo)

After Main Unit 7 began leaking oil, the design team at John Day Dam began looking for a better solution than pinning the turbine blades. Previous solutions meant disassembling the turbine to replace the O-rings used to seal the oil into its chamber, a four-month job. (Corps of Engineers photo)

An unexpected discovery during a scheduled unit overhaul challenged a John Day repair team to find an unconventional yet fiscally-viable solution, without sacrificing valuable operational capacity.

The skilled eight-member team rose to the test and their success earned them the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2014 Innovation of the Year award.Just over a year ago the team discovered an oil leak due to a Kaplan turbine O-ring failure on one of the units. The leak had to be stopped before it reached the river, but shutting down the unit for a conventional repair would cost time and money.

The team brainstormed solutions and came up with a design that redirected the leaking oil back to its point of origin; thereby mitigating environmental impacts and preserving operating flexibility and capacities.

The innovative design cost just $162,000 to implement versus approximately $1.2 million.  The solution also saved 17 megawatts of power generation, enough to power 8,350 homes; and preserved about $200,000 in annual economic revenue.

This national honor recognizing the John Day team’s innovation and success is one more reason Portland District leaders are understandably proud of the employees who operate and maintain the nation’s infrastructure.

For more on how the team developed and implemented the plan to repair the oil leak, visit http://usaceportland.armylive.dodlive.mil/index.php/2014/06/john-day-dam-team-works-on-fixes-big-and-small/.