Lynchburg Dam Removal

College Lake flooding
Image from: https://www.lynchburg.edu/news/2020/11/college-lake-dam-removal-project-launches-virtual-town-hall-meeting-set-for-nov-12/

Gannon Vitelli ~ Breaking News Editor 

     The University of Lynchburg and city of Lynchburg have been working closely together to remove College Lake Dam, which is an ongoing project that is expected to be completed within the next three years.

     In 2018, the dam was nearly destroyed after it overflowed, which is one of the reasons the school and city have decided to remove it entirely. The goal is to remove the lake and turn it into thriving wetlands.

     The city of Lynchburg has released a specific plan to remove the dam, and this plan lists several reasons for why the dam is a hazard. Still, there are people who believe the dam removal is unnecessary. 

     Hannah Pine is a senior environmental science major. She said, “I think the danger of the dam actually breaking is vastly exaggerated. I mean, even the city is not that concerned about it.”

     Pine continued, “The depth of college lake has gone from 30 feet at its deepest point to seven feet, which tells you something about the sediment pollution in Lynchburg. That is 23 feet of sediment build-up at the bottom of the lake. This did not happen overnight and should have been addressed sooner.”

     Lynchburg officials launched a website specifically about the dam and this website provides information about the project. It outlines the removal plan and provides diagrams of the site. It also serves an educational source that lists the history of the dam.

     The city of Lynchburg has received assistance from the University of Lynchburg with the removal. Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences at Lynchburg, Dr. Henry-Stone, has played a large role in helping the city plan for this project. The partnership between the school and city has been an effective way in planning the process of the removal.

     The Water Quality Manager for the city of Lynchburg, Erin Hawkins, has been planning and spreading awareness for the project since the decision was made to remove the dam. She has explained how if the dam is not removed, it will be a hazard to those who live around it. “We are very much a committed partnership in getting the project done,” she stated. 

     She highlighted that the project is being done carefully. “There are underlying issues that could be problems if they are not accounted for in the project,” she said.

     The removal has been a controversy among students at Lynchburg who hold sentimental value with the dam, but Lynchburg city officials have displayed reasons why the dam is a hazard. The project is expected to be finished by 2024.

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