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Whitewater Learning
Whitewater Learning
Posted on 04/18/2018
An Enka High School student rides down "Bayless Boof," a Class IV feature on the Upper Green River.Enka High School AP Human Geography students pose in front of the Tuxedo Hydro Station.


An Enka High School student takes on "Bayless Boof," A Class IV feature on the Upper Green River.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

A group of Enka High School students got a “rapid” lesson about water and the energy economy on Monday.

Health Alexander’s AP Human Geography class paddled their way down the Upper Green River – a section containing exhilarating Class III and IV rapids – with the generous support of Green River Adventures. It was a unique, adrenaline-packed lesson on hydrology.

First, the students toured Duke Energy’s 5-megawatt Tuxedo Hydro Station and learned how the station uses water to do work and produce electricity. They also learned how Duke’s dam releases balance the needs of energy generation and recreation on the Upper Green River.

Tuxedo has a small power house, but Duke Energy Operations Team supervisor John Martin gave a fascinating, in-depth talk that covered the ins and outs of hydro power generation – the world’s oldest form of renewable energy. The students donned hard hats, protective glasses, and earplugs before heading into the station. There, they examined the 600rpm twin power turbines, the analog control room, and the wooden flumes that carry water from the reservoir down to the station.

“It’s good for the students to see how we actually make power,” Martin said. “It can broaden their horizons as they start to think about their future careers.”

“We’ve been talking about the different ways energy affects society based on their energy options,” said senior Leah Moore. “It was really cool to get out of the textbook and see how a hydro plant actually works.”

Next came the river tour. Green River Adventures owner Tim Bell and several experienced guides led the students down a gorgeous 4-mile section of the Upper Green River, riding the release of water from the dam.

“The tour of the dam showed how it influences the local economy,” said senior Brady Dillingham. “It powers the lights, but it also draws tourists to the river, and they eat and shop and spend money at the local businesses.”

“Human Geography is about the inter-connected relationships between people and places,” added fellow senior Alex Holguin. “People manipulate the area around them. In any location, industry is the economic life source. The power plant creates electricity, and it controls the flow of the water. That provides a huge boost to the tourist economy. People spend money and use electricity.”

Mr. Alexander thanked Green River Adventures, which provided a steep discount and an extra guide for the trip. He thanked Duke Energy for accommodating the hydro station tour, and he thanked Dr. Blair Walden and Dr. Drew Beeghly, ER docs at Mission Health who volunteered their time to kayak with the students and help keep them safe.
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