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Hydraulic Model Studies of Falcon Dam

International Boundary and Water Commission

Silent | 1961

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    Before the construction of the Falcon Dam, models were built to test the performance of the final design under varying conditions. This film provides a detailed demonstration of the tests done to study the effects of standing waves on the performance of the stilling basin and to track erosion patterns in different flow conditions. Note: The film label dates this as 1961, but the original tests were performed in 1949.
    The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) has its roots in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsen Treaty of 1853, both of which established (and re-established) the U.S.-Mexico border, and also established commissions to survey and map the new U.S.-Mexico border, designating landmarks to mark the border. As the rivers that created the borders changed their courses naturally, land changed jurisdiction, and the International Boundary Commission (IBC), the IBWC's predecessor, was established in 1889 to apply rules that resulted from the Rio Grande and Colorado Rivers' roles as the boundaries between the two countries. In 1906, the two countries signed their first water distribution treaty, the Convention of March 1, 1906, which designated portions of the rivers to each country. In 1933, the two countries began joint river projects to stabilize the Rio Grande, and in 1944, the countries formed the IBWC to enforce allocations of the river and began work on dams that would be operated and maintained by both countries. The IBWC has been integral in resolving boundary disputes for the two countries over the following decades and in constructing dams and reservoirs that stabilize the boundary rivers, keeping them on course to maintain consistent borders and benefits for the U.S. and Mexico.

    The Falcon Dam is an earthen embankment dam and reservoir on the Rio Grande River that finished construction in 1954. The Falcon Dam is situated in Starr County, Texas and Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Mexico. It serves as an international boundary and crossing between Texas and Mexico. In addition to its role as an international boundary, the Falcon Dam also serves purposes of water conservation, irrigation, flood control, and recreation for both countries. The Falcon Dam also supplies water to hydroelectric power plants in both the U.S. and Mexico, creating energy for the turbine generators and supplying water for the penstocks from the reservoir. The dam is 150 feet high and 26,294 feet long. It was dedicated in October 1953 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mexican President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines. It is a project of the IBWC.