Editor's note: As of June 19, Corps officials announced a change for two pulse release dates. The Aug. 13 release is now scheduled for Aug. 20, and the Sept. 3 release is now scheduled for Sept. 10. This change is reflected in the dates below.
NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will deviate from Gathright Dam’s existing water control plan in order to conduct six pulse releases near Covington, Va. from June through October 2014.
The pulses, conducted by the Norfolk District in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, will begin at approximately 6 a.m. and end at 1:30 p.m. and will increase levels 3 to 4.5 feet in the Jackson River.
The agencies advise people who use the river to be aware of the river fluctuations caused by the pulses.
“The pulses will allow us to gather another full season of monitoring data,” said Owen Reece, Norfolk District hydraulic engineer. “The data will help to document the water quality and environmental benefits of an alternate water control plan for the dam.”
The 2014 pulse dates are scheduled for the following Wednesdays:
All dates are subject to change based on weather conditions and rainfall.
In 2013, officials canceled the scheduled June pulse release after increased rainfall eliminated the need for the surge.
“We use new data and information to adapt and manage the releases,” Reece said. “We want to get the best results.”
The deviation from the water control plan will also slightly reduce river flow by an average of 10 percent from the dam, resulting in a 1-inch drop in the Jackson River.
The releases will not have negative effects on the water levels at Lake Moomaw; levels are expected to remain slightly above where they would have been under the existing water control plan. The water reserved in the lake from the reduced flow will be used for the pulse releases, similar to how the Corps conducted the pulses in 2013.
Results obtained from the 2013 pulses indicated a continuing improvement to the water quality and habitat in the Jackson River.