An interesting hydro harvest

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One of the fun things about my job is looking at all of the interesting stories out there related to hydroelectric power. A great many of them find their way onto HydroWorld.com and into the pages of Hydro Review or HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide magazines. But once in a while we come across something that doesn’t quite fit in these venues, and still it’s too good not to talk about.

This was exactly the case when I ran across a story on the ABCNews website a few weeks ago. Titled Hydro Wood, it is a report about work being done in Tasmania to harvest rare and valuable timbers from the reservoir behind Reece Dam on the Pieman River. The dam was built by Hydro Tasmania, and the two-unit, 238-MW powerhouse began operating in 1986.

According to this story, posted Nov. 16, 17 logs have been salvaged by a Tasmanian company that plans to log several similar lakes behind dams that impound water for hydro facilities. In fact, the plan won a $5 million federal government grant, and the logs were cut in May and tested at the University of Tasmania’s School of Architecture.

Evidently, the logs being harvested include black-hearted sassafras, myrtle, eucalyptus, Huon pine, King Billy pine and Blackwood.

The materials harvested have been high-quality and machined well. It is anticipated they will be marketed as a unique premium drowned timber product and have Australian certification, as well as possible forest stewardship certification.

Without getting to the mechanics behind the recovery process, what is interesting to me is the recognition and recovery of this valuable resource. The report indicates that some timber was salvaged from this area before the reservoir was filled, but the plan is to harvest 20,000 cubic meters of timber each year for a period of five years.

Obviously there are many other hydro facilities around with a similar valuable resource just resting below the water’s surface. In fact, it is estimated that the flooded forest resource is worth up to $50 billion worldwide.

The so-called Hydrowood project is being handled by SFM Environmental Solutions of Hobart, Australia. Other lakes being “mined” for this valuable resource include Burbury, Mackintosh, McKenzie and Gordon.

Have you heard of this being done elsewhere? If so, let me know. I’d love to hear about it.

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