Thursday, April 30, 2015

First Official "Dam Challenge" Time is set.

Apparently there is an effort to establish a standing record for making a dam to dam run as fast as possible.  Here's a video of the "record" run made last September.  188 mi (94 up, and back) in 2 hours 29 minutes and 49 seconds.  There's more info in the video notes.

It looked like a blast to me.

Here's a video at 4x speed looking forward.  If you ever wanted to see the entire lake in five minutes...

There's also a full length video.

Encapuslated Foam Disposal - Hey Ameren! A Little Help?

UPDATE:  Oct 16, 2015 During Ameren's sponsored shoreline cleanups, in both spring and fall, dumpsters are placed throughout the lake area.  Bring all of your lake collected trash to one of these facilities, by land or sea, and it will be properly disposed of at no expense. You will need to contact Ameren for the location nearest you and confirm if you have a lot.

As the lake rises to summer levels there is the inevitable influx of trash and unwanted material back into the Osage river system.  Most of this material is small trash that will, unfortunately, make its way to the Gulf of Mexico, but not all.  The large encapsulated foam "tubs" that are required by all dock owners now can sometimes be found floating around in various states of condition, some are completely intact and can be reused, while others are damaged and cannot. These tubs are tough but not indestructible.  Damaged tubs cannot help support a dock but they are practically unsinkable and float around until they make their way to the backs of coves, or down to the dam.  I've retrieved two unusable tubs myself just to keep them out of traffic.  The outdrive I save may be my own.

There in the lies the problem.  Disposing of bad dock foam has always been a problem but at least there were facilities that would do it.  I've tried to find a proper disposal location for these tubs, but so far cannot find any service that will take them.  The response from WCA was "Good luck".  Ameren has the clout to help setup some process for dealing with this problem, a little leadership on this front would be helpful.

If I figure out a way to dispose of these things...properly... I'll post it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reporting Boating Accidents on the Lake

As the 2015 Summer season is upon us, I thought it would be a good time to start our annual “Safety First!” post with a notice regarding accident reporting, and when it is needed.  As has been discussed before, the relative safety of boating on the Lake of the Ozarks is comparable to just about anywhere else in the U.S., but what is not typical are the incidences of minor personal injury.  Anecdotally, and in the media, the Lake has a reputation for being unsafe, as visitors and resident boaters often have a story or two to tell in regards to someone getting hurt.  The disconnect between the national data and the reputation of the lake lies in the number of unreported incidents.

The Missouri Water Patrol dutifully documents all fatalities and accidents they are involved with but incidents regarding minor injuries, or sometimes major ones often incorrectly go unreported. Most boaters, understanding the risks of riding in a boat under siege by large waves, take injuries in stride without reporting anything to Water Patrol.  It is quite understandable that if someone falls to the deck, or scrapes a prop, or some other mishap not requiring a visit to the emergency room, the first thought isn't to call the authorities to file a report.  While it's easy to think that minor injuries are not worth the trouble to report, federal requirements exist making it mandatory to report accidents to state authorities in the case where:
  • A person dies; or
  • A person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury; or
  • A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid (emphasis mine); or
  • Damage to vessels or other property totals $2000 or more; or
  • There is a complete loss of any vessel.
The Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR 173; Subpart C) define the minimum reporting requirements but states are allowed more stringent requirements.  For Missouri:
  • An injury occurs causing any person to lose consciousness, require medical treatment, or be disabled for more than 24 hours; or
  • Damage to the vessel and other property exceeds $500.
The emphasis on the personal injury in the federal guideline means only the most superficial injuries can go unreported.  I’m sure many boaters can attest to accident experiences that often require treatment “beyond” first aid (I know I bear my share of scars, and watched others get theirs), but do not report them.  The reasons for not reporting accidents range from simply not knowing it is required, to avoiding the authorities for fear of liability, either way it is clearly a difficult requirement to enforce if the accident occurs without Water Patrol involvement.

The failure of relevant injury reporting is not only against the law, it limits statistical data available to only involving deaths and major injuries, which are thankfully as rare as anywhere else, but also means there can be no proper assessment for general safety on the Lake of the Ozarks.  Minor injuries are often not so minor in the long term, and what goes unreported is actually statistically important. In fact, this deficit in accountability may actually be favoring the statistical assessment that the Lake of the Ozarks is safer than it may actually be in comparison to other lakes where minor incidents are as infrequent as major ones. If we wish to try and address safety issues at the Lake and improve the overall boating experience for all, we must properly account for all accidents, in order to accurately assess safety over time, the effectiveness of regulations, and making informed decisions as to how to improve the situation.

If you hurt someone on your boat to the degree stated, please report it properly to the Missouri Water Patrol @
Emergency Phone
1-800-525-5555 or *55 (Cellular)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

How Much Electricity Can Bagnell Dam Produce?

This is a detailed analysis of the power generating capabilities of Bagnell Dam given known operational parameters.  What I've done is to analyze the performance of the dam, based on licensed flow rates, energy sales, efficiency analysis and the geometry of the dam itself.

The analysis avoids anything above high school algebra so it shouldn't be too hard to follow, but it is rather detailed.  In the end, we discover that the dam design matches well to flow rates for the Osage river basin but within licensed flow rates is still in fact capable of producing over 10% more energy than it currently does.

On a personal note, this took me far longer to do than I thought it would.  I wish I had paid more attention in my civil engineering class.

How Much Electricity Can Bagnell Dam Produce?

Thursday, April 02, 2015

March 2015 Lake Levels and Discharge

After a nice steady descent in lake levels for the month of February, March begins the slow ramp up to spring. Where the month began with levels well below the five year average (dotted-orange), it has rebounded and ends the month slightly above average for this time of year.  Lake level is still relatively low of course and, with moderate temperatures keeping energy demand low as well, will likely stay between 656-657 through the month of April.