College Lake Dam Removal

Spencer Newman ~ Guest Writer

The City of Lynchburg has decided to remove College Lake’s dam to turn it into a wetland, but this decision comes with some dispute among scientists. 

Dr. Henry-Stone, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Lynchburg who has been working in collaboration with the City of Lynchburg to help coordinate the dam’s removal, says, “The lake was much bigger when it was first built in 1934 and it’s been filling in with sediment which is dirt runoff from around the city, so the lake has shrunk in size. Therefore it has sort of reduced the habitat for aquatic organisms but it also comes with other forms of pollution like bacteria from sewage,” when asked about what environmental problems the lake poses. 

The University of Lynchburg’s site about college lake states, “The city built the dam in 1934, forming a lake on the Lynchburg College campus. For many years, Lynchburg students and nearby residents used the lake for many different activities…The flood in August, 2018, damaged the dam, making it clear that removing the dam would be the most sustainable, long-term solution.”

The city has classified the College Lake Dam as a high hazard dam which could potentially be loss of life if the dam were to fail.

Dr. Shahady, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Lynchburg, says, “The watershed has been so overdeveloped…so in removing the dam it will release about 80 years of sediment buildup of pollutants. I think the removal is a mistake…my counterargument to there being potential loss of life is that there’s so little water left that it does not matter anymore,” in response to the plans of the dam being removed.

If you would like to learn more about the dam removal process visit College Lake through the years – University of Lynchburg

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