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Bonneville Dam

Bonneville Dam 

Bonneville Dam, on the Columbia River, officially entered service on June 6, 1938. Built and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this hydroelectric dam is 40 miles east of Portland Oregon in the scenic Columbia River Gorge.

The construction of this 1,450 feet long, 197 feet high dam created Lake Bonneville. The lake is 48 miles long, and is part of the Columbia-Snake Inland Waterway. The dam was built as part of the Public Bonneville Fish LadderWorks Administration during the Great Depression. It's first powerhouse was constructed in 1937. The second was added between 1974 and 1982. With both powerhouses, there are 20 turbines, producing a total of 1092.9 MW of electricity.

The dam also contains a fish ladder system. Fish ladders are structures on or around artificial barriers that facilitate certain species of fish's natural migration. Most fishways enable fish to pass around the barriers by swimming and leaping up a series of relatively low steps into the waters on the other side.

The 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure gave the nation's dam a poor grade -- D. As dams age and downstream development increases, the number of deficient dams has risen to more than 4,000, including 1,819 high hazard potential dams. Over the past six years, for every deficient, high hazard potential dam repaired, nearly two more were declared deficient. There are more than 85,000 dams in the U.S., and the average age is just over 51 years old. To learn more about the state of the nation's dame, read the Report Card.