MCD Centennial
March 7, 2015 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Conservancy district 100 years old The Miami Conservancy District was the first of its kind in the world. It was used as a model for the much more famous Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as other conservancy projects in several states. posted by Michele in California (8 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
"Whenever the hour of danger comes again, and it will surely come, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps a century hence, the dams and levees will be ready, for they have been built for all time."

Incredible to read the description of a large, collective infrastructure project to deal with an uncertain and unpredictable future catastrophe from the perspective of the people involved. They were so proud of the collective nature of the enterprise and the long term nature of it. I haven't read anything current quite like it.
posted by congen at 1:24 PM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, this is about the Miami River, which is in Ohio.
posted by congen at 1:25 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

The dry dam system in the Miami Valley (Dayton, Ohio area) is an impressive feat of engineering. The system works, and works well. I have visited all five dry dams, walked or ridden my bike atop many miles of the levees, spent enjoyable hours hiking through the parks behind the dams and I have never ceased to be impressed with Arthur Morgan's achievement.

Arthur Earnest Morgan: "He was the design engineer for the Miami Conservancy District flood control system and oversaw construction. He served as the president of Antioch College between 1920 and 1936. He was also the first chairman of Tennessee Valley Authority from 1933 until 1938 in which he used the concepts proven in his earlier work with the Miami Conservancy District."

Grand Eccentrics: Turning the Century: Dayton and the Inventing of America (Amazon) is an informative little book about the technological and engineering innovation and invention (the good and the bad) that took place in the Dayton area in the early part of the 20th century. The Wright Brothers. Charles Kettering. John H. Patterson. Arthur Morgan. Among others.

Thanks for the post Michele in California.
posted by cwest at 5:20 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nice! I love learning about the history of various conservation efforts. (And on behalf of my sister-in-law, who went to Miami U, "Miami is in Ohio DAMMIT".)
posted by Lexica at 6:28 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Growing up in the area, the Great Flood of 1913 was a frequent topic in my school history classes. I vividly remember a school field trip to Dayton to see the flood markers on the sides of some of the big downtown buildings. They were so high above my elementary-school-aged self that I couldn't believe it.
posted by minervous at 6:35 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's one of the dry dams in google Terrain View, at the Germantown Metro Park.

I always wondered how other dams that stay full would be much help in a flood. (They do have some ability to raise the lake level before they overflow.) It must be almost impossible to build these dry dams, since everybody wants the lake behind the dam to stay full all the time.
posted by jjj606 at 7:51 PM on March 7, 2015

It must be almost impossible to build these dry dams, since everybody wants the lake behind the dam to stay full all the time.

"During a large flood, many times the amount of water the normal river channels will carry, must be taken care of. The Official Plan provides five basins formed by building across the valleys five earth dams of the safest and most desirable type. Substantial concrete outlets, founded on rock and passing through the base of each dam, permit the ordinary river flow to pass unobstructed. The sizes of the outlets are such that at times of highest floods, only such amounts of water will escape below the dams. The excess water is held back by the dams and accumulates temporarily in the valley lands situated above them, to flow off later through the outlets as the floods subside. Except during floods, which usually occur in January, February, and March, the valley lands composing the bottoms of the basins are in their normal condition and can be used for crop growing. They will, in fact, be improved by the flooding, since the deposit of rich silt carried by the streams during high water will increase their fertility. Buildings are to be removed from the areas that may be flooded by the dams. Storage is provided for a total of 847,000 acre feet of water under maximum flooding conditions.

Although it scarcely seems possible that a flood more than 40 percent larger than 1913 can occur, spillways are provided at all of the dams in order to keep the water level from reaching the tops of the dams should such a flood come. " (From the second link in the post.)

The dry land behind the dams is meant to be flooded when the water in the rivers and creeks of the Miami Valley rises significantly. In other words, there are no sizable lakes for people to want to stay full. Behind Germantown dam, which was linked, their is no body of water, only Twin Creek running through the dam. The other dams have very small bodies of water behind them for limited recreational use. If you look at this wikipedia map you can see the retarding basins behind each dam. The basins are mostly dry land when normal conditions prevail.

There are no gates or turbines in the dams. The water simply backs up behind the dams into the retarding basins when there is flooding. How a dry dam works (Miami Conservancy District). MCD System (same).
posted by cwest at 9:25 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

jjj606, thank you for that map view. I love how the road across the top of the dam is called Conservancy Road.
posted by Michele in California at 1:25 PM on March 8, 2015

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