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Norfolk District cancels Gathright Dam pulse release

Published June 18, 2020
Gathright Dam in Alleghany County, Virginia, impounds water flowing down the Jackson River to create the 2,500-acre Lake Moomaw. Since opening in 1979, the dam has prevented numerous floods, saving countless dollars and lives.

Gathright Dam in Alleghany County, Virginia, impounds water flowing down the Jackson River to create the 2,500-acre Lake Moomaw. Since opening in 1979, the dam has prevented numerous floods, saving countless dollars and lives. (U.S. Army photo/Vince Little)

NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials have canceled a pulse release scheduled for June 24 at Gathright Dam in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia near Covington.

The decision to cancel the year’s first pulse release from Lake Moomaw was reached in coordination with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Heavy rainfall in the region this spring has led to water flows well above average the past two months, with three events in Covington significantly higher than normal, peaking between 5,000 and 10,800 cubic feet per second.

During a pulse release, dam operators gradually increase water flow to a rate of 3,500 cubic feet per second. In some areas, the Jackson River can rise more than 2 feet an hour.

The remaining 2020 pulse releases are set for the following Wednesdays:

July 22
Aug. 12
Sept. 2
Sept. 23
Oct. 14

Dates are subject to change based on weather conditions and rainfall. For updates, refer to www.nao-wc.usace.army.mil/nao/projected_Q.html.

Pulse releases, which began in 2011, are designed to improve aquatic habitat and water quality in the Lower Jackson River. Monitoring data has shown the increased flow scours excess algae downstream and strengthens the river’s health.

Norfolk District provides innovative engineering solutions – in collaboration with partners – to deliver water resources, military, interagency, environmental and disaster-response programs that make communities, the commonwealth of Virginia and nation a better place to work and live.