Happy Hydropower Day!

Posted in: Energy, Water


historic photo of engineers standing in front of sign
Firm Founder Daniel W. Mead was passionate about hydropower and worked on many important projects that shaped our country.

Hydropower has powered our nation with clean, renewable energy for over 135 years. Today, as we face global climate change, relying on the clean energy that hydropower offers becomes even more important. As a way to collectively recognize hydropower’s substantial contributions to providing clean energy, our industry recognizes August 23rd as National Hydropower Day.

Mead & Hunt was founded to provide the expertise needed to develop some our nation’s first hydroelectric projects, so celebrating Hydropower Day for us is particularly apt. For over a century, we’ve provided civil, electrical, mechanical, and regulatory services to our communities.

The firm was established by hydroelectric and hydraulic engineer Daniel W. Mead in Wisconsin in 1900. Mead exhibited a passion for the study of waterpower and energy as a young engineer.  When he came to Wisconsin as a topographer to assess damages caused by a major flood in the Chippewa Valley, his interest in hydrology was sparked. His work assessing the damage caused by this devastating flood went on to shape the rest of his career.

Mead’s intense interest in hydropower and hydroelectric projects guided the direction our firm took. For decades, the company thrived on community needs for hydro-powered electricity.

man and woman in safety attire in front of dam
Today, we provide services for hydroelectric projects nationwide. Our dedication to working with hydropower to provide clean energy for future generations remains the same.

This work included many important projects that ultimately shaped our country, including the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. When construction of the dam was authorized in 1928, President Calvin Coolidge appointed Mead to a committee to study the project’s details. Mead maintained that the Colorado River was one of the greatest potential power sources in the country and damming it would greatly benefit the entire surrounding area. He remained on the committee until the dam’s completion in 1936.

As the Great Depression hit, construction of new hydroelectric plants stalled. Instead of bowing to the adversity faced, Mead and his cohorts took the opportunity to carve out new niches for the company in structural, mechanical, and airport engineering. The perseverance paid off—as the war wound down, the firm found ever-greater success. America was rebuilding a new nation, and firms like ours were right there to help.

The history of our firm exemplifies the steadfast spirit, strong commitment to ethics, and tireless innovation that Mead himself possessed. Today, Mead & Hunt continues to hold firm to these values.

We are currently facing the defining issue of our time—global climate change. Hydropower is and will continue to be necessary to our nation’s clean energy infrastructure. Looking back on our long history, I feel confident we will continue to make great strides working with hydropower to give the next generations access to reliable clean energy.


Carson Mettel, PE

About the Author

Carson Mettel, P.E., is Mead & Hunt’s National Market Leader for Dams and Hydropower and the Vice-Chair of the National Hydropower Association’s Small Hydro Council. He has 35+ years of experience working with water resources, dams and hydro power projects. In his hours away from work, Carson is a pie connoisseur and enjoys biking, two interests that definitely complement each other.

Read more posts by Carson Mettel, PE

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