Southwestern Power Administration

October 6, 2016
Southwestern Celebrates Beaver Dam 50th Anniversary

Senior Vice President Marshall Boyken speaks to the assembled crowd at Beaver Dam Site Park for Beaver Dam’s 50th Anniversary.

The Little Rock District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) hosted a 50th anniversary celebration for Beaver Dam on October 6, 2016, at Beaver Dam Site Park near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Southwestern joined the Corps, the Southwestern Power Resources Association, and members of the Arkansas congressional delegation to commemorate the event.

As one speaker stated, the assembled crowd was lucky to be there, since a presidential veto of the project by President Dwight Eisenhower meant that the reservoir almost did not exist. Congress, however, overrode the President’s veto, and bids for the project were received in the year 1960.

First put online in May 1965, the hydropower units at the dam were in full commercial operation by October 1966. Since this date, Beaver Lake has been one of the stars of the Arkansas lakes. One newspaper article dubbed Beaver “Queen of the White River Lakes.” It was promoter Ray Scott, however, who first brought the lake to prominent attention as a fishing destination. Scott held the first modern bass tournament at Beaver on June 5–7, 1967, and its notoriety as a fishing haven was born.

In the course of its half-century of service, Beaver Dam has produced over nine billion kilowatthours of energy, which, using today’s power values from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission averaged over Southwestern’s six-state marketing area, adds up to a total benefit of nearly one billion dollars. In addition to the very tangible benefits produced by this Federal power project, there has also been a considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions prevented since the first unit came online in 1965.

Estimates of emissions offset are 140,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 22 thousand tons of sulfur dioxide, and 18 thousand tons of nitrogen oxides. And to replace the energy generated over the years, an equivalent amount of energy would have to be generated using over 300,000 barrels of oil, 90,000 tons of coal, or 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Clearly, the hydropower benefits Beaver Dam has provided over the years are impressive, but water supply, flood control, recreation, and environmental interests are also very important reasons to celebrate. During fiscal year 2004 alone, the Corps estimates that the White River lakes prevented an estimated $67.2 million in flood losses. Of that total, Beaver reservoir prevented $7.2 million in flood damages.

So give a cheer for Beaver Dam and other projects in the Federal system as they grow older. May they continue their unwavering service to the region and to the Nation, so that all can continue to enjoy the benefits of these vital multiple-use projects.