OVERSHOT WATERWHEELA DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION MANUALI. WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT IS USED FORBACKGROUNDImproved use of water as a power source has potential for muchof the developing world. There are few places where water isnot available in quantities sufficient for power generation.Almost any flowing water--river, brook, or outlet of a lake orpona--can be put to work and will provide a steady source ofenergy. Fluctuations in the rate of flow usually are not toolarge and are spread out over time; water flow is far lesssubject to quick changes in energy potential and is available24 hours a day.The uses of energy from water are about the same as those forenergy from the wind--electrical generation and mechanicalpower. Water-powered turbines attached to generators are usedto generate electricity; waterwheels are generally used topower mechanical devices such as saws and machines for grindinggrain.Development of water power can be advantageous in communitieswhere the cost of fossil fuels is high and access to electrictransmission lines is limited.POSSIBLE APPLICATIONSThe cost of employing water power can be high. As with anyenergy project, you must consider carefully all options. Thepotential for power generation of the water source must becarefully matched with what it will power. For example, if awindmill and a waterwheel can be constructed to fill the sameend use, the windmill may well require less time and money. Onthe other hand, it may be less reliable.Using water power requires: 1) a constant and steady flow ofwater, and 2) sufficient "head" to run the waterwheel or turbine,if such is being used. "Head" is the distance the waterfalls before hitting the machine, be it waterwheel, turbine, orwhatever. A higher head means more potential energy.There is a greater amount of potential energy in a larger volumeof water than in a smaller volume of water. The concepts ofhead and flow are important: some applications require a highhead and less flow; some require a low head but a greater flow.Many water power projects require building a dam to ensure bothconstant flow and sufficient head. It is not necessary to be anengineer to build a dam. There are many types of dams, somequite easy to build. But any dam causes changes in the streamand its surroundings, so it is best to consult someone havingappropriate expertise in construction technique.