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Corps conducts semi-annual inspection at Gathright Dam ahead of pulse releases

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District
Published May 14, 2021
The USACE Norfolk District inspection team takes a jon boat to the entrance of the outlet tunnel of the Gathright Dam to perform a primarily visual inspection of the major dam safety components on May 11 during the semi-annual dam inspection. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

The USACE Norfolk District inspection team takes a jon boat to the entrance of the outlet tunnel of the Gathright Dam to perform a primarily visual inspection of the major dam safety components on May 11 during the semi-annual dam inspection. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

Anthony Lockidge, supervisory facility operations specialist and Dam operator for USACE Norfolk District waits at the entrance of the Gatheright Dam outlet tunnel to guide the inspection team to the tunnel on May 11 during the semi-annual dam inspection. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

Anthony Lockidge, supervisory facility operations specialist and Dam operator for USACE Norfolk District waits at the entrance of the Gatheright Dam outlet tunnel to guide the inspection team to the tunnel on May 11 during the semi-annual dam inspection. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

Gathright Dam at the dam crest overlooking upstream at Lake Moomaw. Gathright Dam located in Alleghany County, Va., impounds the water flowing down the Jackson River to create the 2,500 acre Lake Moomaw. The dam has prevented numerous floods over its 30 plus year existence saving countless dollars and lives. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

Gathright Dam at the dam crest overlooking upstream at Lake Moomaw. Gathright Dam located in Alleghany County, Va., impounds the water flowing down the Jackson River to create the 2,500 acre Lake Moomaw. The dam has prevented numerous floods over its 30 plus year existence saving countless dollars and lives. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

Gathright Dam at the dam crest overlooking downstream. Gathright Dam located in Alleghany County, Va., impounds the water flowing down the Jackson River to create the 2,500 acre Lake Moomaw. The dam has prevented numerous floods over its 30 plus year existence saving countless dollars and lives. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

Gathright Dam at the dam crest overlooking downstream. Gathright Dam located in Alleghany County, Va., impounds the water flowing down the Jackson River to create the 2,500 acre Lake Moomaw. The dam has prevented numerous floods over its 30 plus year existence saving countless dollars and lives. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

Anthony Lockidge, supervisory facility operations specialist and Dam operator for USACE Norfolk District exits the Gatheright Dam outlet tunnel during May 11 during the semi-annual dam inspection. The dam continues to perform as intended with the staff taking great care to maintain and operate safely. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

Anthony Lockidge, supervisory facility operations specialist and Dam operator for USACE Norfolk District exits the Gatheright Dam outlet tunnel during May 11 during the semi-annual dam inspection. The dam continues to perform as intended with the staff taking great care to maintain and operate safely. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

The USACE Norfolk District inspection team performs a primarily visual inspection of the major dam safety components at the Gathright Dam outlet tunnel on May 11 during the semi-annual dam inspection. Facility personnel inspect the dam daily under normal operating conditions and more frequently during high-pool levels. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

The USACE Norfolk District inspection team performs a primarily visual inspection of the major dam safety components at the Gathright Dam outlet tunnel on May 11 during the semi-annual dam inspection. Facility personnel inspect the dam daily under normal operating conditions and more frequently during high-pool levels. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

The USACE Norfolk District inspection team performs a primarily visual inspection of the major dam safety components at the Gathright Dam outlet tunnel on May 11 during the semi-annual dam inspection. The dam is regularly inspected by facility staff, as well as Norfolk District engineers. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

The USACE Norfolk District inspection team performs a primarily visual inspection of the major dam safety components at the Gathright Dam outlet tunnel on May 11 during the semi-annual dam inspection. The dam is regularly inspected by facility staff, as well as Norfolk District engineers. (U.S. Army photo/Breeana Harris)

COVINGTON, Va – The Norfolk District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) conducted a semi-annual inspection of the Gathright Dam on May 10-14 as part of the District's comprehensive dam safety program ahead of yearly pulse releases scheduled to begin in June.

The inspection team, which consisted of geotechnical, structural, mechanical and electrical engineers from the Norfolk District performed a primarily visual inspection of the major dam safety components.

“The dam continues to perform as intended with the staff taking great care to maintain and operate safely” said Trent Elder, Gathright Dam project engineer.

In addition to the semi-annual inspection, project personnel participated in mandatory dam safety training.

“Project personnel are the first-line defense to an emergency,” said Elder. “Conducting reoccurring dam safety training stresses the importance of daily inspections and visual observations.”

The inspection and dam safety training comes ahead of the first pulse release of the year, which is scheduled for June. The pulses, conducted by Norfolk District in coordination with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, generally take place between 6 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on scheduled days and increase Jackson River levels from 3 to 4.5 feet.

The 2021 pulse dates are set for the following days:

June 23
July 21
Aug. 11
Sept. 1
Sept. 22
Oct. 13

Dates are subject to change based on weather conditions and rainfall. For updates, refer to https://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.

As part of Norfolk District's comprehensive dam safety program, Gathright Dam has been inspected and monitored closely since it became operational in 1979. The Gathright Dam and Lake Moomaw Project provides flood protection of industrial, commercial and residential properties along the Jackson and James rivers with immediate impact on Covington, Virginia.

For more information about the Norfolk District, visit us at https://www.nao.usace.army.mil/