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There’s a Giant Hole in this Dam Water!

[Bell-Mouth Spillways]
By Twisted Sifter on Thursday, May 6, 2010 filed under PROPERTIES, PLACES & STRUCTURES.

At first glance you might mistake a bell-mouth spillway for a watery vortex into another dimension. What
can only be described as a giant hole in the water is actually a method for controlling the release of flows
from a dam or levee into a downstream area. These spillways help prevent floods from ‘dam’-aging or
destroying a dam.
Photograph by The Cat’s Place


- A spillway is a structure used to provide for the controlled release of flows from a dam or levee into a
downstream area, typically being the river that was dammed
- Spillways release floods so that the water does not overtop and damage or even destroy the dam. Except
during flood periods, water does not normally flow over a spillway
- In contrast, an intake is a structure used to release water on a regular basis for water supply,
hydroelectricity generation, etc.
- Floodgates and fuse plugs may be designed into spillways to regulate water flow and dam height
- Other uses of the term “spillway” include bypasses of dams or outlets of a channels used during highwater,
and outlet channels carved through natural dams such as moraines

Source: Wikipedia
Photograph by Jon Bradbury
Photograph by Traqopodaros


- Some spillways are designed like an inverted bell so that water can enter all around the perimeter. These
uncontrolled spillway devices are also called: morning glory, plughole, glory hole, or bell-mouth
- In areas where the surface of the reservoir may freeze, bell-mouth spillways are normally fitted with ice-
breaking arrangements to prevent the spillway from becoming ice-bound

Source: Wikipedia
Photograph by David Wilby
Photograph by Buster Bakewell


- The images above are from the spillways located at the Ladybower Resevoir
- The Ladybower Reservoir is a large Y-shaped reservoir, the lowest of three in the Upper Derwent Valley in
Derbyshire, England
- The River Ashop flows into the reservoir from the west; the River Derwent flows south, initially through
Howden Reservoir, then Derwent Reservoir, and finally through Ladybower Reservoir
- Its longest dimension is just over 3 miles (5km), and at the time of construction it was the largest reservoir
in Britain (1943)

Source: Wikipedia
Photograph by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Photograph by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation


- The Monticello Dam is a dam in Napa County, California, United States constructed between 1953 and
- It is a medium concrete-arch dam with a structural height of 304 ft (93 m) and a crest length of 1,023 ft
(312 m)
- It contains 326,000 cubic yards (249,000 m³) of concrete. The dam impounded Putah Creek to cover the
former town of Monticello and flood Berryessa Valley to create Lake Berryessa, the second-largest lake in
- The capacity of the reservoir is 1,602,000 acre•ft (1,976,000 dam³). Water from the reservoir is supplied
mostly to the North Bay area of San Francisco
- The dam is noted for its classic, uncontrolled spillway with a rate of 48,400 cubic feet per second (1370
m³/s) and a diameter at the lip of 72 ft (22 m).
Source: Wikipedia

Photograph by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Photograph by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

- Wikipedia: Spillways
- Wikipedia: Ladybower Resevoir
- Wikipedia: Monticello Dam
Photograph by Keartona
Photograph by Ian Stuart Armstrong
Photograph by Spider Bob
Photograph by Carl McCabe
Photograph by ChezyNickAnnie
Photograph by Wedesoft
Photograph by Martin Roberts
Photograph by Preseverando