On each side of Hoover Dam is a spillway to be able to release water around the dam so that water will not flow over the dam if Lake Mead becomes full. As you can see in this photo, there is no danger of Lake Mead filling up with water for years to come. The lake is down, way below capacity.
The spillways have been used only twice, in 1941 for testing, and in 1983 due to high water. Both times caused damage to the concrete tunnels below, as the water drops into a 600 foot (180 m.) long before connecting to tunnels that redirect the water back into the river below the dam.
At the top of the spillway are four steel gates that can be opened to let water into the spillway. Each gate is 100 ft. (30 m.) long and 16 ft. (5 m.) high and weighs 5 million pounds (2.3 million kg.). There are so many statistics associated with Hoover Dam that are too large to comprehend.
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