Category Archives: Dams

Pigg River Dam Removal in Rocky Mount, Va., in Fall 2016

An unused power dam over 100 years old on the Pigg River in Rocky Mount, Va., was one of 72 outdated dams removed in the United States in 2016, according to the non-profit group American Rivers.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.

Sources:
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More background on U.S. dams and the removal of outdated ones is available in “The Undamming of America,” by Anna Lieb for the Public Broadcasting System’s “NOVA Next,” 8/12/15, online at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/.

Philpott Dam Releases on Smith River – Fall 2016 Debate over Fishing and Paddling Impacts

Trout fishing, stream paddling, tourism, fishing licenses, and hydroelectric power generation are all part of a debate in fall 2016 on the Smith River, a Dan River/Roanoke River tributary.  Philpott Dam and Reservoir, on the Smith River in Franklin, Henry, and Patrick counties, are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facilities intended to provide hydropower, recreation, flood control, water supply, low-flow augmentation, and fish/wildlife habitat (more information on Philpott is available online at http://epec.saw.usace.army.mil/roanphil.htm).  The debate focuses on the volume and timing of releases from Philpott Dam and how those releases affect fishing and boating below the dam in Franklin and Henry counties.  The debate is described in a 10/25/16 column by Bill Cochran, outdoors writer for the Roanoke Times: Anglers and paddlers differ over Smith River management.

Grants for Dam and Floodplain Projects in Va.; Application Deadline May 1, 2015 (Mar. 12, 2015, News Release from the Va. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation)

Following are the hyperlinked headline and an excerpt from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s  (DCR) Mar. 12, 2015,  news release on grants available for dam and floodplain projects.  Other news releases from DCR are available online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/pr_relz.shtml#prarch.

Grants available for dam and floodplain projects, Va. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation News Release, 3/12/15.

Excerpt: Dam owners and local governments can apply for $500,000 in grants available from the Virginia Dam Safety, Flood Prevention and Protection Assistance Fund.  The maximum amount available per grant will be based on project scoring and the total amount of funds requested.  All grants are reimbursements and require a 50 percent match. … Requests must be submitted by 5 p.m. May 1, 2015.

“… Grants [to dam owners] can be used to develop dam break inundation zone analysis, mapping and digitization; emergency action plans; incremental damage analysis; and engineering costs related to dam repairs.

“… [Grants to local governments] can be used for local flood warning and response systems such as reverse 911 and the web-based Integrated Flood Observing Warning System (IFLOWS).  Funds can also be used to improve local floodplain programs including upgrades allowing localities to participate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System. … Local governments can also use grant funds to improve floodplain information and education programs.

“Those interested can download the grant manual [at] www.dcr.virginia.gov/forms/DCR199-219.docx …or call DCR at (804) 371-6095.”

Appomattox River Dam Removal, Farm Ponds Captured in a Young Writer’s Essay, and More Available in July 23, 2014, Outdoor Report from Va. Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries

The July 23, 2014, “Outdoor Report” from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) in now available at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/outdoor-report/2014/07/23/.

Each edition of the Outdoor Report is full of information on fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, boating, and other outdoor activities.  The sections of the 7/23/14 report are listed below, with hyperlinks to go to the individual items.

Storm Surge Maps by FEMA, plus Other Floodplain-related Topics, to be Covered at October 17, 2013, Workshop by Virginia Floodplain Management Association in Fredericksburg

On October 17, 2013, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the Virginia Floodplain Management Association will hold a workshop on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) re-mapping for coastal storm surges.  The workshop will also include information on recent changes in Virginia at the departments of Environmental Quality and of Conservation and Recreation affecting floodplain management, dam safety, erosion and sediment control, and stormwater management.  For more information, visit http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e7yg6e6fc67612e2&llr=nixricdab; or contact Don Rissmeyer at drissmeyer@amtengineering.com or (757) 363-6208.

Virginia and Chesapeake Bay Area Water News Headlines Sampler for August 24-August 30, 2013: Continued Dolphin Deaths, Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid and Blackside Dace, CAFO Regulation Lawsuit, Zinc from Mine Waste along New River Tributary, Wildwood State Park Plan, Magmatic Moon Water, and More

Following are headlines and notes for a selection of water-news stories in Virginia (or nearby or related to Virginia) from the period August 24-30, 2013.  The headlines are grouped by topics and—within those groups—from newest to oldest.  Explanatory notes have been added in brackets after the publication and date.  Unless otherwise noted, all places mentioned are in Virginia.  As of 9/1/13, all headlines listed below have working hyperlinks to take you to the full article.

Aquatic Life
Dead dolphin found on KI [Kent Island, Md.], The Queen Anne’s County (Md.) News, 8/30/13; and Virginia dolphin deaths spike in August mass die-offs continue, Daily Press, 8/28/13.  August was the peak month for the higher-than-normal levels of dead dolphins found in Virginia and other Atlantic coast states during summer 2013.  A virus is suspected as the cause of the deaths.  This item was previously in the Grouper’s headline posts on 8/11/13 and 8/23/13. Here are earlier articles:  Federal cuts threaten team dealing with dolphin crisis, Virginian-Pilot, 8/23/13; Dolphin deaths haven’t hurt Virginia Beach tours, Virginian-Pilot, 8/19/13; Dolphin die-off stretches Virginia Aquarium resources, WVEC 13 (Norfolk Va.) TV, 8/19/13; Virus a suspect in dolphin strandings along bay, Virginian-Pilot, 8/2/13; and Dolphin deaths up in Washington region, Washington Post, 8/6/13.

Energy
Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids Likely Harmed Threatened Kentucky Fish Species, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 8/28/13.  Recently published research from scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that federally threatened Blackside Dace were damaged by water-quality impacts from a spill of hydraulic fracturing fluids in Kentucky in 2007.  The only known populations of this fish species are in the Cumberland River basin in Kentucky and Tennessee and in the Powell River basin in Virginia.  The research was published in a Southeastern Naturalist issue (Volume 12, Special Issue 4) on Blackside Dace, available online at http://www.eaglehill.us/SENAonline/sena-v12-sp4-2013.shtml.

Laws and Regulations
Environmental, animal rights groups sue EPA for dropping plan to gather livestock farm data, Associated Press, as published in Washington Post, 8/28/13.  On August 28, 2013, the Center for Food Safety, Environmental Integrity Project, Food and Water Watch, the Humane Society, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement sued the U.S. EPA, alleging that the agency acted unlawfully when in July 2012 it withdrew a proposed regulation requiring information from large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on animal numbers and other details related to regulation of CAFOs under the federal Clean Water Act.

Mining Waste Management
Indian Creek Discharge, National Committee for the New River, 8/29/13.  Heavy rains in early 2013 led to increased levels of zinc in surface water runoff from a former mine site (closed in 1981) on Indian Creek, a New River tributary near Austinville in Wythe County.  Since 1994, the site has been under a state enforcement order to remove mining tailings, and significant progress has been made over the years to remove the materials.  But the 2013 rainfall created a new drainage channel through which runoff from the tailings was flowing without any treatment.  The Virginia departments of Environmental Quality and of Mines, Minerals and Energy met with the property owners in late August to establish a plan for remediating the drainage issues that led to the increased zinc discharges this year.  Later news account, added 9/20/13: Wythe company cleaning up environmental mess, WDBJ-TV Roanoke, 9/16/13.

State Parks
Widewater State Park Presented as Top Priority along Potomac River, Potomac Local, 8/29/13.  On August 27, 2013, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) presented the proposed master plan for Widewater State Park, a new park to be located on 1,100 acres between the Potomac River and Aquia Creek in Stafford County.  DCR’s three-phase plan would cost an estimated $43 million.  The plan is to be presented to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors on September 11.

Weather
Updated model to aid in hurricane evacuation plans, The Washington Post, 8/25/13.  During the Atlantic tropical storm season (June 1-November 30) in 2013, the National Hurricane Center is developing and using better computer models, run on faster computers, to improved its ability to predict storm surge, one of the most dangerous coastal aspects of tropical storms.  The Center also is changing its forecasts from feet above normal high-tide level to depth above ground level.

Outside of Virginia But in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – Dams
$3.57 Million Grant Targets Patapsco River’s Bloede Dam, Patch.com (Ellicott City Md.), 8/26/13.  A grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s (NOAA) Restoration Center to the non-profit organization American Rivers will help fund removal of Bloede Dam on the Patapsco River in Patapsco Valley State Park, west of Baltimore, Maryland.  Information from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on the Bloede Dam project is available online at http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/bloededam/index.asp.

Outside of Virginia But in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Md. Withdraws Emergency Status Of Fertilizer Rules, Associated Press, 8/26/13; and New MD index to more closely look at phosphorus’ route to water, Bay Journal, 8/27/13.  Maryland is developing a new method for determining when soils have excessive phosphorus levels and therefore when manure applications should be reduced or curtailed.  The Bay Journal article gives detail on the issue of phosphorus and water quality generally).

Out of This World
Scientists Detect Magmatic Water on Moon’s Surface, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 8/26/13.  In the August 25, 2013, edition of the scientific journal Nature Geoscience, scientists reported that NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper had detected magmatic water, that is, water originating deep within the interior of the moon.

Virginia and Chesapeake Bay Area Water News Headlines Sampler for August 17-August 23, 2013: Dolphin Deaths, Oyster Documentary, Fiber Optics Under the Bay, Susquehanna River Dam Relicensing, Sea-level Rise Easement in Maryland, Nitrate Monitoring on the Mississippi, and More

Following are headlines and notes for a selection of water-news stories in Virginia (or nearby, or related to Virginia)  from the period August 17—23, 2013.  The headlines are grouped by topics and—within those groups—from newest to oldest.  Explanatory notes have been added in brackets after the publication and date.  Unless otherwise noted, all places mentioned are in Virginia.  As of 8/23/13, all headlines listed below have working hyperlinks to take you to the full article.

Aquatic Life and Habitats
Federal cuts threaten team dealing with dolphin crisis, Virginian-Pilot, 8/23/13; Dolphin deaths haven’t hurt Virginia Beach tours, Virginian-Pilot, 8/19/13; and Dolphin die-off stretches Virginia Aquarium resources, WVEC 13 (Norfolk Va.) TV, 8/19/13.  In mid-August 2013, the Virginia Beach area continued to experience a high number of dolphin deaths, with 25 more dead animals washing ashore during the weekend of August 17-18, bringing the total this year to 130, compared to an average yearly total of about 60.  A virus is suspected as the cause of the dolphin deaths.  For earlier stories, please see Virus a suspect in dolphin strandings along bay, Virginian-Pilot, 8/2/13; and Dolphin deaths up in Washington region, Washington Post, 8/6/13.

Fisheries
Film explores the life of the Chesapeake Bay watermen and the revitalization of the oyster industry, The (West Point Va.) Tidewater Review, 8/17/13.  As of mid-August 2013, Dave Miller of Aylett, Va. (King William County) was making the final cuts to “Breathing Life into the Chesapeake: of Oysters, Boats, and Men,” an hour-long documentary film about  Chesapeake Bay oyster fishers and aquaculturists.

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath
Governor McDonnell Announces $405,000 in Community Development Block Grant Urgent Needs Funding; Town of Strasburg will receive grants to assist with rebuilding and improving storm drainage system after Hurricane Sandy, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 8/19/13.  This grant will help repair Hurricane Sandy damage in October 2012 to Ash Street in the Shenandoah County town of Strasburg.

Military
Hearing held on plans for fiber optic line under Chesapeake to Taylors Island, The Dorchester (Md.) Star, 8/22/13.  On August 19 and 20, 2013, public hearings were held in Maryland concerning the proposal by the U.S. Department of Defense to run a fibre-optic line under the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, part of a larger effort to have a dedicated fiber-optic line from the Patuxent River Naval Air Test Center in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, to the Wallops Island Flight Center in Accomack County, Virginia.

Outside of Virginia But in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
First-of-Its-Kind Easement from Sea Level Rise Impacts, Southern Maryland News Net, 8/22/13.  On August 22, 2013, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and the state’s  Board of Public Works approved funding for to purchase the state’s first Coastal Resilience Easement, covering 221 acres in Dorchester County (along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park) that is considered susceptible to flooding from observed and predicted sea-level rises.

[Chesapeake Bay Foundation] Files to Intervene in Conowingo Dam Relicensing, The Chestertown (Md.) Spy, 8/20/13. On August 20, 2013, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation filed a motion to be allowed to intervene in the relicensing process by Excelon Corporation for the Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam on the Susquehanna River in Maryland.  Previously, in July 2013, a coalition of several riverkeeper groups in the lower Susquehanna River basin and the Chesapeake Bay watershed filed a motion to intervene in the relicensing process; these groups are seeking action by Excelon on sediment behind the dam, public-fishing access, and American Eel restoration.  Also, in late June 2013, the Clean Chesapeake Coalition, representing (at the time) the Maryland counties of Allegany, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, and Kent, filed a motion to intervene based also on concerns over sediment at the dam.  As of August 2013, that coalition was urging Talbot County, Maryland, to join.  For more on this issue, please see the 2/27/13 Grouper post, “Relicensing Application Process for Conowingo Dam on Susquehanna River in Maryland Expected to Proceed to Environmental Assessment Phase in 2013.”  Previous sources: Groups push sediment eel fishing issues at Conowingo Dam, Lancaster (Pa.) Online, 7/22/13; 18 Riverkeepers Intervene In Conowingo Relicensing, The Chestertown (Md.) Spy, 7/23/13; and Clean Chesapeake Coalition urges Talbot County to join, The Cecil [Md.] Daily Whig, 8/16/13.

Power plant proposed for Brandywine, Washington Post, 8/19/13; and Brandywine site to host gas power plant, Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, 8/23/13.  On August 19, 2013, Dallas, Texas-based equity firm Panda Power Funds announced a proposal to build an 859-megawatt, natural-gas-fired power plant in Brandywine, Maryland (Prince George’s County).  The plant would use re-use treated municipal wastewater for cooling, discharged the cooling water back to a treatment plant.

Coveside Crabs: On the Bay with a True Blue Maryland Crabber, ABC 2 (Baltimore Md.) TV, 8/19/13.  Here’s a three-minute video look at the daily summer routine of a Maryland waterman harvesting Blue Crabs.

Susquehanna River center grows, Lancaster (Pa.) Online, 8/19/13.  As of mid-August 2013, construction was scheduled to begin soon and be completed by this coming winter on a $1.4-million project to create recreational and educational facilities related to the heritage of the Susquehanna River at the John and Kathryn Zimmerman Center for Heritage in York County, Pennsylvania.

Outside of Virginia But in the Gulf of Mexico Watershed
Real-time Monitoring Pays Off for Tracking Nitrate Pulse in Mississippi River Basin to the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 8/21/13.  Along the Mississippi River, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is using optical sensors to measure and transmit data on levels of nitrate (a compound of nitrogen and oxygen) every 15 minutes to three hours.  The monitoring seeks to clarify how nitrate concentrations from tributaries contribute to a watershed “pulse” of nitrate in response to rainfall and seasons.  In Virginia, the New River, Big Sandy River, and Upper Tennessee River basins are in the Mississippi/Gulf of Mexico watershed.