Category Archives: Dams

Grants for Dam Safety and Flood Protection Available from Va. DCR in 2018; Deadline to Apply is Mar. 30, 2018

On January 24, 2018, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced the availability of grants for 2018 to dam owners and local governments from the Virginia Dam Safety, Flood Prevention and Protection Assistance Fund.  The deadline to apply for grants in this cycle is 4 p.m., March 30, 2018.  The grant manual is available (as a Word document) online at

Following is an excerpt from the DCR’s news release on the grants:

“The fund is managed by the Virginia Resources Authority on behalf of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

“All grants are reimbursements and require a 50 percent match. The maximum amount per grant will be determined based on amounts requested from eligible projects, application scores and available funds. …

“Grants are offered in two categories:
Dam safety grants are available to private dam owners and local governments for dams that have been under a regular or conditional certificate during the past 12 months.  If the applicant’s dam is not under a certificate, detailed documentation must be provided to demonstrate the steps being taken to bring the dam under certificate.  Grants may be used for dam break inundation zone analysis, mapping and digitization; probable maximum precipitation impact analysis and certification; hazard classification analysis; emergency action plan development; spillway capacity analysis; dam engineering and design activities; and other projects as specified in the grant manual.

Flood prevention and protection grants are available to local governments and can be used for hydrologic and hydraulic studies of floodplains to improve the accuracy of flood maps and better determine flood risk, development of flood hazard mitigation strategies and plans, development of flood prevention and protection studies, and other projects as specified in the grant manual.”

More information on th eDCR’s Dam Safety and Floodplains Program is available online at; or phone (804) 371-6095.

Source: Grants Available for Dam and Floodplain Projects, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation News Release, 1/24/18.

Conowingo Dam on Susquehanna River was Focus of Dec. 14, 2017, Special Chesapeake Bay Commission Meeting in Annapolis, Md.

On December 14, 2017, the Chesapeake Bay Commission held a special meeting in Annapolis, Md., on the Conowingo Dam.  (The Conowingo Dam is located on the Susquehanna River in Maryland; for more information about the dam, see the Chesapeake Bay Program Web site at

The meeting agenda is available online (as a PDF) at

Virginia’s and the Nation’s Infrastructure Gets Graded by the American Society of Civil Engineers – 2017 Edition

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes a “report card” on the state of engineered infrastructure in the United States.  The report covers infrastructure in aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, public parks and recreation, rail, roads, school facilities, solid waste, transit, and wastewater.  The latest national report (as of March 13, 2017) gave a grade of D+, the same as the grade in 2013.  The report estimated the cost of making necessary infrastructure improvements at $4.59 trillion, compared to the 2013 estimate of $3.6 trillion.  The full national report for 2017 is available online at  A chart of results from previous reports–back to 1998–is available online at

According to the “What Makes a Grade” section  of the Report Card Web site, grades were assigned based on capacity to meet current and future demand, condition, funding, future needs, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.  The grades are described as follows: A = exceptional; B = good; C = mediocre; D = poor; F = failing.

The 2017 national report also includes reports for each state.  As of 3/13/17, the Virginia assessment was a 2015 report compiled by the Virginia Section of the ASCE (ASCE-Va.).  The Virginia report is available at  The Virginia report give the Commonwealth an overall grade of C- (compared to a D+ in 2009), and the following category grades: bridges = C; dams = C; drinking water = C; parks = C+; rail and transit = C-; roads = D; school facilities = C-; solid waste = B-; stormwater = C-; and wastewater = D+.

News item related to Virginia report in 2015: Virginia infrastructure earns grade of C-, Capital News Service, 1/21/15.

Other sources of information on infrastructure needs in Virginia and elsewhere:

National Bridge Inventory Database, online at

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, “CorpsMap—National Inventory of Dams, online at

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Clean Watesheds Needs Survey 2012 Report to Congress,” available online at  According to this Web site, this report is an “assessment of capital investment needed nationwide for publicly-owned wastewater collection and treatment facilities to meet the water quality goals of the Clean Water Act.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment (Fifth Report to Congress,” EPA 816-R-013-006, April 2013), available online at

Virginia Department of Transportation, “VTrans 2025: Virginia’s Statewide Multimodal Long-range Transportation Plan” (November 17, 2004): available online (as PDF) at

Virginia General Assembly joint subcommittee reports on school construction:
1) “Report on the Level of Assistance to Localities Necessary for Developing Adequate K-12 Schools Infrastructure,” House Document 5 for 2005 (published February 2005): available online at

2) “K-12 School Infrastructure,” House Document 2 for2006 (published November 2005); available online at

Infrastructure cartoon

Cartoon that accompanied a February 2010 Virginia Water Central newsletter article on the 2009 infrastructure report by the American Society of Civil Engineers-Virginia Section.  Illustration by George Wills, Blacksburg, Va. (

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.

Pigg River dam removal project part of national trend, Roanoke Times, 2/16/17.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, online at

A map of dams removed in the United States since 1916 is available from American Rivers, online at

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

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  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.

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

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; or contact Don Rissmeyer at or (757) 363-6208.