An unused power dam over 100 years old on the Pigg River in Rocky Mount, Va., was one of 72 outdated dams removed in the United States in 2016, according to the non-profit group American Rivers. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Pigg River dam was built in 1915 for the Light and Power Company of Rocky Mount and later American Electric Power, and it has been inoperable since the late 1950s.
The dam’s demolition in fall 2016 opens up fish access to 72 miles of the Roanoke River tributary from its headwaters in Franklin County to the Leesville Lake on the Franklin/Bedford/Campbell county border. The removal also will provide 2.2 miles of habitat for the Roanoke Logperch, which is on the federal Endangered Species List.
Partners in the removal of the Pigg River dam included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of the Rivers of Virginia (the dam’s owners), Franklin County, the Town of Rocky Mount, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and American Electric Power. Duke Energy provided $1 million for Pigg River dam removal as part of the company’s response to the February 2014 coal ash spill into the Dan River (also a Roanoke River tributary) from a Duke facility near Eden, North Carolina.
Pigg River dam removal project part of national trend, Roanoke Times, 2/16/17.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, online at https://www.fws.gov/northeast/virginiafield/partners/powerdam.html.
A map of dams removed in the United States since 1916 is available from American Rivers, online at https://www.americanrivers.org/threats-solutions/restoring-damaged-rivers/dam-removal-map/.
More background on U.S. dams and the removal of outdated ones is available in “The Undamming of America,” by Anna Lieb for the Public Broadcasting System’s “NOVA Next,” 8/12/15, online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/earth/dam-removals/.