Where is/was Carter Hydro Dam's reservoir?


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Recently, while considering California's dwindling water reserves, I realized that hydro dams need bodies of water behind them to generate enough pressure to generate a good amount of electricity. This made me wonder about the Carter Dam reservoir - it isn't directly on Mystery Lake, but instead just a small river coming from the lake, and that appears to be the inflowing side. Existing infrastructure indicates that the water level probably couldn't have been significantly higher in the past, either. If the water instead flows the other way somehow, the terrain on the other side of the dam doesn't appear to have been particularly suitable for a reservoir either. Great mysteries of life. Mystery Lake, indeed!

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Great point! I have pondered similar issues in the game, however the dam reservoir hadn't been one of them. You are correct though, here in New Zealand there are lots of dams and hydro electric is pretty big, and they all have significant make made lakes on the side feeding the dam (from damming the river of course). I have always been impressed by the attention to detail in the creation of the maps in TLD, but this is definitely a oversight, especially given the Carter Hydro Dam is really huge. 

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I think the water flows from the Mystery lake through the dam and then to the WInding river. You need height difference mainly for producing electrocity. And looking on the outer dam side, there is enough height. Plus you need steady input of water. We dont know how rich are Mystery Lake inflows.

I think there was a waterfall, which has been converted to powerplant. But when you have such small water amount before the dam, why is the dam so large? The amount of the water cannot be big if you check the terrain from the train bridge.

If the powerplant is kinda "we take all water we can get", the dam building has no sense. But I think there is information, there was a seismic activity before the collapse and some after. Maybe the reservoir was bigger...

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My thinking is that the dam was abandoned and decommissioned many years before the first flare, and that the pipes have been open and letting water through so there's no reservoir on the upper side.

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I agree with OP, it doesn't appear the water was significantly higher level than what it is now and looking at dam construction, mystery lake is the source of water that passes through the dam and gets dumped into winding river.

Perhaps there is enough height difference, but the dam wall looks awful tall, a lot taller than it needs to be!

Perhaps they made the wall tall enough to keep our curious noses from peeking into the other side?

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Carter Dam comes from the devs designing a structure that looks nice for game purposes but would be functionally useless (in real life consideration).  Of course realism only goes so far. 

Those generators in the upper dam and the turbines in the lower dam are huge and that little stream/river coming to the upstream/intake side of the dam would be obviously too small to supply that much water. There would also not be any need for such a massive structure that tall. 

Making Carter Hydro look the part of a real dam would have moved Mystery Lake right up against the dam itself and the size of the needed impoundment area would have radically changed the region's layout.  This does not take into account the staff to operate and maintain the dam and its systems would have been sizeable too.  Accessibility would be a problem since, at the present, the railroad was the only way to move people and equipment to, through, and from the region.  I would also mention that there was a definite lack of other structures, such as a sundry store even if closed at the time, for Mystery Lake as it was placed.  The camp office, the lookouts, the logging operation, even trappers's cabin were seriously lacking in what I would have thought were a minimum amount of vehicles and equipment (even if we couldn't use them) to support operations in the region. 

But it is a nice place. 

 

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The devs likely don't know much about making dams and logging. If they did they probably wouldn't know much about making video games. It takes time to learn things and you only have so many years.

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yes they would, but realism is not something they seem to care about. Many things are so far off of realistic that the game becomes confusing for anyone who doesn't put effort into learning the strangeness of the game.

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9 minutes ago, odizzido said:

yes they would, but realism is not something they seem to care about. Many things are so far off of realistic that the game becomes confusing for anyone who doesn't put effort into learning the strangeness of the game.

There's definitely some truth to this, though I guess I adapted pretty easily to the game's systems. But then, I'm no pro survivalist or anything.

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There is also a difference between knowing well enough to be okay and then knowing that sometimes putting on that sport vest you just found will actually make you colder even though you had nothing in that slot before. I would bet that less than 1% of players would even consider this a possibility.

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Only the outside layer counts for wind resistance. If for example you have an expedition parka on in the inside slot it will count the wind resistance on it only if you're not wearing anything out the outer slot. By putting a sports vest on in the outer slot you gain 0.5 degrees of base warmth but your chest wind resistance will drop from 6 degrees to 0.5 degrees. A lot of the time that's going to make you colder.

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On 9/8/2021 at 5:32 PM, Jaspo said:

Recently, while considering California's dwindling water reserves, I realized that hydro dams need bodies of water behind them to generate enough pressure to generate a good amount of electricity. This made me wonder about the Carter Dam reservoir - it isn't directly on Mystery Lake, but instead just a small river coming from the lake, and that appears to be the inflowing side. Existing infrastructure indicates that the water level probably couldn't have been significantly higher in the past, either. If the water instead flows the other way somehow, the terrain on the other side of the dam doesn't appear to have been particularly suitable for a reservoir either. Great mysteries of life. Mystery Lake, indeed!

The train bridge in front of the entrance to the Carter Hydro project is the first clue that the dam's reservoir is on the Winding River side of the project.  The massive walls of the structure closed the natural gap between the rock outcroppings creating the giant basin that would have become the reservoir.  Consider the view of the back side of the dam, the next time you find yourself exploring the surroundings that constitute the area known as Winding River.  The water level of course has been drawn down and equalized since the dam had been decommissioned, allowing the slow, yet continuous, unrestricted flow of water into Mystery Lake.  Now with the permafreeze in place that water is little more than a trickle, although the waterfall in Ravin's Ravine is still dumping thousands of liters of water!

Obviously, many elements of modern dam building mechanics have been overlooked in the artistic creation of the in game hydroelectric plant...

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47 minutes ago, Semple Fi said:

Winding River dumps out in pleasant valley, does it not?

definitely connects the two as it were,
but I get the impression that the Winding River is fed by the river water coming from Pleasant Valley and is flowing towards Mystery Lake.

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The front of Carter Hydro Electric Dam Project

 

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Train bridge servicing Carter Hydro

note height limitations of stone piling(s) - water not to exceed piling height! 
not very deep or massive to be an effective reservoir, but more than adequately meets the requirements for a
well regulated water discharge system.

 

 

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View of Carter Hydro from Winding River Reservoir Area

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Massive concrete construction
Looks designed to hold back millions and millions of liters of water!

let's get a little closer

this basin looks like it could hold a lot of water.  really a lot.  screen_c02cbc5c-aaa3-445e-9a65-dd507167e2b0_hi.thumb.png.2a6b9e706c7f7ef6792276aa782093f7.png

seeing all this flotsam and debris piled up at the base I get the impression that the water is/was flowing in the direction of the dam and not the other way.

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apparent direction of water flow 

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approximate height of normal operating water depth 

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approximate height of normal operating water depth 

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The dam walls here look massive.  Isn't that you might expect a reservoir should look like?

 

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Makes sense as you lay it out. 

Still leaves me wondering where the water went.  That’s a massive water level drop for the reservoir to be empty. And where did the water flow exit after  emptying into mystery lake?

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I dont think the water reservoir could be on the Winding River side. The water could be only up to rim. Otherwise it would flow into the dam. And when you look from the Mystery Lake side, there is no height, which could power those turbines.

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I've finally have the definitive answer on the reservoir and the direction of water flow for the Carter Hydro Dam Project

But first lets take a fun little look into the wire frame layout of the Upper and Lower Dam environs

 

Upper Dam 

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you may notice an absence of fixtures and crates... 

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I did a little metal and reclaimed wood salvage.  So far have over 85 kilos of scrap metal!

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birds eye view of upper turbine room

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side view

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same side view, basically ground level looking in from the outside

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Side view with hatch door to lower level visible

 

 

Lower Dam

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Side view of lower level
Windowed side is where you enter the lower dam from Winding River, stairwell leads to corridor leading to lower turbine area

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Birds eye view of lower dam layout

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side view of lower level with stairway in foreground leading to doorway exiting to Winding River side

 

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close up birds eye view of interior of lower level, entrance to dam from Winding River of the left 

 

Although I thought these wire frameworks were pretty cool to look they didn't really give me any indications from which direction the water flowed

until....

 

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Wire frame view of front of Carter Hydro.  Looks like Carter built his dam on what appeared to be a waterfall, with the Winding River spilling over the falls
and emptying into Mystery Lake!   

 

 

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