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Gathright Dam pulse release canceled as river conditions ‘favorable’

Published Sept. 21, 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 has canceled Wednesday’s scheduled pulse release at Gathright Dam in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia near Covington.

The pulse was called off due to overall “favorable” Jackson River conditions and an effort to maximize cold-water storage in Lake Moomaw, district officials said. Engineers canceled two other releases this summer because of high water flows caused by heavy rainfall in the region.

The decision was reached in coordination with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

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 final pulse release in 2020 is set for Oct. 14. Dates are subject to change based on weather conditions and rainfall.

For Gathright Dam schedule changes and release 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.