Dam Repairs to Affect Flows in New River Gorge and Dries

Published 1/21/2021  |  American Whitewater
By: Kevin Colburn

The Bluestone Dam blocks the New River not far upstream of the popular New River Gorge and New River Dries, and is currently undergoing significant repairs. These repairs will keep 9 of the 16 gates out of service until 2027, allowing for total releases of around only 12,000cfs. To account for the reduced release capacity, the Army Corps of Engineers, who owns the dam, will attempt to capture high flow events in the reservoir and more slowly release them at 12,000cfs. This management will dampen high flows, resulting in longer and more moderate flows than naturally occur in the river.

Intriguingly, these releases will regularly overwhelm the 10,000cfs maximum diversion of the Hawks Nest Hydroelectric Project, and result in more frequent and predictable spill releases into the New River Dries in the 3,000-5,000cfs range counting tributaries that flow into the New River below Bluestone Dam. These are great levels for the Dries, which are growing in popularity following the recent restoration of 7 scheduled summer releases and the creation of several new river access areas.

It is uncertain how dramatic of an affect this upstream work will have on the paddling opportunities in the New River, but we expect paddlers will notice some changes. Enjoy!

This post first appeared on American Whitewater.

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