The Daniel-Johnson Dam is a hydroelectric power plant in Canada, formerly known as Manic-5, is a multiple arch buttress dam on the Manicouagan River which creates Manicouagan Reservoir. The dam is composed of 14 buttresses and 13 arches and is 214 km (133 mi) north of Baie-Comeau in Quebec, Canada. The dam was constructed between 1959 and 1970 for the purpose of hydroelectric power production and supplies water to the Manic-5 and Manic-5-PA power houses. The dam is 214 m (702 ft) tall, 1,314 m (4,311 ft) long and contains 2,200,000 m3 (2,880,000 cu yd) of concrete, making it the largest dam of its type in the world.

Construction of Daniel Johnson Dam

Construction on the dam's support facilities began in 1959 and the river diversion tunnels and foundation preparation commenced in 1960. To divert the Manicoagan River, workers blasted and dug two 2,000 ft (610 m) long and 45 ft (14 m) diameter tunnels through the gorge's solid granite west wall. Workers used "jumbo" drilling platforms and the tunnels progressed 14 ft (4.3 m) each shift. To facilitate the river's diversion, two cofferdams were built. The first was a concrete arch upstream from the dam site which would block the river, forcing it into the diversion tunnels. The second cofferdam was downstream and prevented water from flowing back into the construction site. Each cofferdam was built on alluvial deposits (loose soil) so they needed to be watertight which was accomplished with either a grout curtain or deep supporting piles. Once the river was diverted, workers pumped the remaining water out between the two cofferdams in order to prepare the site for construction. Once drained, workers excavated the alluvial deposits between the cofferdams creating a long pit that was 150 ft (46 m) deep at the center. This pit was then filled with concrete in the summer of 1962. To prevent seepage in the dam's foundation, a grout curtain was injected in the bedrock and a drainage network with 2,400 ft (730 m) of tunnels was constructed just downstream of the dam to collect water that may seep through.

After the extensive preparatory works were complete, the first concrete for the dam was poured on October 3, 1962. Concrete was poured day and night but was halted during the winter because of freezing temperatures. To organize the pouring, the dam was split into 45 ft (14 m) plots and each was raised about 5 or 6 ft. at a time. Workers had about 150 days - before seasonal flooding - to construct the dam to a height of at least 250 ft (76 m). Before flooding began, engineers planned to seal the diversion tunnels and begin filling the reservoir. To speed the pouring process, concrete was poured in casts by buckets that moved along three cableways suspended above the construction site. The deadline was met within the 150 days and a total of 1,000,000 cu yd (760,000 m3) of concrete was poured. The dam was eventually completed in 1968.


The design of Daniel Johnson Dam was chosen for strength and economical reasons as it used less concrete or material than a gravity or embankment dam. The Daniel-Johnson Dam is a 214 m (702 ft) tall and 1,312 m (4,304 ft) long multiple-arch buttress dam. Of the dam's 14 total buttresses, the two that form the center arch are 530 ft (160 m) apart at their base while the others are about 250 ft (76 m) apart. At its thickest point, the center, the dam is 22.5 m (74 ft) wide while the crest can reach about 3 m (10 ft) wide. Pressure from water behind the dam is transferred from the dam's arches to its buttresses and lastly into the ground or its foundation.

The Daniel Johnson Dam was constructed with a high-quality concrete designed to withstand constant thawing and freezing associated with its environment. To further help the structure cope with the climate, engineers placed one inch steel reinforcing bars within the upstream and downstream faces of the dam. The concrete's strength in compression was initially 4,500 lbs. per square inch to meet an estimated 1,500 PSI within the structure. The upstream face of the dam was also coated in asphalt for protection against water. Despite the strength of the dam's concrete, two parallel inclined cracks were discovered on one of the arches shortly after construction.


The Daniel Johnson Dam impounded the Manicougan River, which filled the Earth's fifth largest confirmed impact crater, the Manicouagan crater, creating Manicouagan Reservoir. Coincidentally, the reservoir itself is the fifth largest in the world as well. The reservoir has a maximum depth of 350 m (1,150 ft) feet, mean depth of 85 m (279 ft) and contains 142 km3 (34 cu mi) of water. While draining an area of 29,241 km (18,170 mi), it has a surface area of 1,950 km2 (750 sq mi) and shoreline of 1,322 km (821 mi).

The reservoir is a well known area for Atlantic salmon, lake trout and northern pike fishing, although tall trees flooded during the impoundment have not decomposed due to a lack of oxygen, which can sometimes interfere with the sport.

The priming of the reservoir also created a large artificial island in the center of the Manicouagan reservoir by merging two crescent-shaped lakes: Mouchalagane Lake on the western side and Manicouagan Lake on the eastern side. Covering an area of 2,020 km2 (780 sq mi), René-Levasseur Island is considered to be the second largest island in the world located in a lake, in terms of area (the largest is Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron).[24]

The island was named after René Levasseur, the chief engineer responsible for the construction of the Daniel-Johnson dam. Levasseur died at the age of 35, only days before the dam's inauguration.


The Daniel Johnson Dam fuels two powerhouses, the Manic-5 and Manic-5-PA. The first powerhouse consists of eight Francis turbines, capable of producing up to 1,528 MW of power, which went online in 1970. The second powerhouse, the Manic-5-PA (PA stands for puissance additionnelle or additional power), was commissioned in 1989, and consists of four Francis turbines of 1,064 MW in total installed capacity.

The designers of the Manic-5 decided on an above ground power house that was downstream of the dam for safety and cost. The intake was built on the east side of the dam and supplies two 3,400 ft (1,000 m), long 36 ft (11 m) diameter concrete-lined penstocks (tunnels). Just before reaching the power house and its eight turbines, each penstock splits into four branches. The power house is about 2,500 ft (760 m) downstream of the dam and utilizes two surge tanks for sudden rises in water pressure from the two penstocks. Each surge tank has a 80 ft (24 m) diameter expansion chamber and is about 40 ft (12 m) higher than the actual dam structure. The surge tanks protect the penstocks and turbines from water hammer which would occur if the turbine gates were quickly closed and water pressure suddenly increases.

Daniel-Johnson Dam
Barrage Daniel-Johnson
Locale Quebec, Canada
Coordinates 50°38′48″N 68°43′28″W / 50.64667°N 68.72444°W / 50.64667; -68.72444Coordinates: 50°38′48″N 68°43′28″W / 50.64667°N 68.72444°W / 50.64667; -68.72444
Construction began 1959
Opening date 1970
Owner(s) Hydro-Québec
Type of dam Concrete, multiple-arch buttress
Length 1,314 m (4,311 ft)
Height 214 m (702 ft)
Crest width 3 m (10 ft)
Base width 22.5 m (74 ft)
Volume 2,200,000 m3 (2,880,000 cu yd)
Impounds Manicouagan River
Type of spillway Service, gate-controlled
Creates Manicouagan Reservoir
Capacity 142,000,000,000 m3 (5.0×1012 cu ft)
Catchment area 29,241 km (18,170 mi)
Surface area 1,950 km2 (753 sq mi)
Power station
Owner(s) Hydro-Québec
Commission date 1970-71 (Manic-5)
1989-90 (Manic-5-PA)
Turbines 8 (Manic-5)
4 (Manic-5-PA)
Installed capacity 1,592 MW (Manic-5)
1,064 MW (Manic-5-PA)