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News Release

New Funding Approved for Pittsylvania Dam Rehabilitation

Mat Lyons

Roaring Fork Dam in central Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

NRCS is providing funding for design services and technical assistance to help address identified issues with the Roaring Fork Lake Dam’s riser, auxiliary spillway and toe drains  (Virginia NRCS photo).

Richmond, Va., April 29, 2022 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has partnered with Virginia communities for more than 50 years to help reduce risks to lives and property through flood control dams. Now, many of these aging dams are in need of rehabilitation to continue providing these benefits. A major national investment in infrastructure projects will now help the agency ensure that no dam is left behind.

Roaring Fork Lake Dam in central Pittsylvania County was included in the second phase of a $420 million national infrastructure package involving 132 projects in 31 states. The structure was built in 1969 to provide flood control for the town of Chatham, storing flood water during storm events and gradually releasing it into the nearby stream over several days. The town of Chatham also uses it as part of the local water supply.

Roaring Fork Lake was originally classified as a significant hazard dam due to probable infrastructure damage downstream. In 2008, the State Division of Dam Safety changed the hazard class to high, prompting a closer look at its stability and integrity. The $890,000 in new Watershed Rehabilitation Program funding will support design services and technical assistance for a project to address identified issues with auxiliary spillway capacity, toe drain corrosion and the footer in the dam’s riser which doesn’t meet current seismic criteria.

Roaring Fork Lake is the second of two structures erected on Cherrystone Creek in the late 1960s. The total cost of rehabilitating Roaring Fork Lake Dam is currently estimated at $8.183 million. Once work is completed, the dam will meet all current State dam safety and NRCS criteria.

“Our watershed programs help communities rebuild after natural disasters and prepare for future events,” said Dr. Edwin Martinez Martinez, NRCS’ state conservationist for Virginia. “These projects represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address needs in priority watersheds nationwide while also providing economic and public safety benefits and strengthening partnerships here in the commonwealth.”

NRCS has helped local sponsors construct 150 dams in 35 watersheds and 27 counties since 1950. Between 2005 and 2019, we helped communities rehabilitate 13 of those dams at a total project cost of over $39 million. In addition to flood control protection, 15 of these structures provide community water supplies and 37 are used for public recreation.


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