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    Panama canal
    From: Michael Dorl
    Date: 2009 Jan 18, 07:35 -0600
    Clive wrote:

    Just a thought, If instead of the canal, putting in a pipe with a tap and a turbine would this give a perpetual source of power!  



    Having just read a massive 600 odd page book on the history of the canal,

    The Path Between the Seas By David McCullough

    I can tell you a couple of things about this.

    It's not so much the difference in the levels of the two oceans as it is the difference in their tides. 

    One of the big problems in building the canal was the Chagres River.  It drains a area with huge rainfall potential.  I remember one passage in the book where the Chagres was observed to rise 30 feet in one hour.  A sea level canal would have had to cross the Chagres many times.  Lesseps never did have a plan for dealing with the Chagres.  The plan that was adopted was first proposed by a French man and consisted of damming the Chagres creating a huge Lake Gatun which makes up much of the length of the Panama Canal.  The locks serve to move ships from the oceans to the lake.  The outlet from the Lake Gatun  has a big hydro power plant generating all of the power to run the canal. And the Chagres and the Lake provide the water lost through lockage.

    The big challenge for the US was the Culebra Cut.  The French had planned on 1:1 side slopes, when the slides stopped during the US effort, it ended up at something like 10:1.  I think there was a slide as late as 1978.

    No one knows for sure but probably about 30,000 people died building the canal; 25,000 during the French attempt and 5,000 during the US effort.

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