Parker Dam is a concrete arch structure commonly called the ‘deepest dam in the world.’ Seventy-three percent of the dam’s structural height of 320 feet is below the original river bed; only about 85 feet of the dam’s strucural height is visible (its superstructure rises another 62 feet above the roadway across the top of the dam).
Parker Dam has a volume of 380,000 cubic yards of concrete. At its crest, the dam is 856 feet long. Water control is provided by five 50-ft-square gates.
Lake Havasu backs up behind the dam for 45 miles and covers more than 20,400 acres (32 square miles). The reservoir’s total capacity is 646,200 acre-feet. The Metropolitan Water District`s W. P. Whitsett Intake Pumping Plant for the Colorado River Aqueduct is located on the shore of Lake Havasu about two miles upstream from the dam.
The aqueduct begins at the intake pumping plant and extends 242 miles to its terminus at Lake Mathews near Riverside, California. About half of the power generated at Parker Dam is reserved by MWD to pump Colorado River water along the Colorado River Aqueduct. The remaining power is marketed to users in California, Nevada and Arizona by the Western Area Power Administration.
By contract, the use of active storage in Lake Havasu to generate power is limited to the elevation between 440 to 450 feet.
The Parker Powerplant includes a penstock gate structure, four penstock tunnels, and a powerplant building housing four hydroelectric generating units. Each of the four tunnels and penstocks conveying river water from the forebay at the left end of the dam to the turbines is 22 feet in diameter and has a water capacity of 5,575 cubic feet per second. The plant’s nameplate capacity is 120 megawatts.