Virginia Ecological Services
Northeast Region

Power Dam Removal Project

The Power Dam Removal Project is located on the Pigg River outside the Town of Rocky Mount, Franklin County, Virginia.The purpose of the project is to provide unimpeded movement upstream and downstream and restore instream habitat in this reach of the Pigg River for the federally listed endangered Roanoke logperch, native recreational fish, and state listed aquatic species through the complete removal of Power Dam.

Power Dam was constructed in 1915 of concrete. It measures 25 feet high, 240 feet long, and retains a pool of 25 acres. The dam is not currently in use, has not been maintained, and poses a safety risk. Several large sections have broken away from the face of the dam and large vertical cracks in the concrete in the vicinity of the powerhouse have formed. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Dam Safety has indicated that, due to the condition of the dam, it needs to be repaired or removed.

Power Dam blocks fish passage and impedes full development of a recreational blueway for the local community. Removal of the dam will eliminate safety concerns, restore habitat and population connectivity for the Roanoke logperch, and open the waterway for recreational use. 

Photo of Power Dam Second Photo of Power Dam
Photographs of Power Dam

Power Dam is at full storage capacity for accumulated sediments.  In its current state, each significant precipitation event causes scouring behind the dam and sends large pulses of sediments, nutrients, and bacteria down-river.  If the dam is left in place, there is a high probability the dam will fail.  If this were to occur, all of the sediment behind the dam would be released downstream at once, causing a major decline in water quality and a negative impact on aquatic resources.  The dam is a hazard to the State Route 713 Bridge and Town of Rocky Mount Waste Water Treatment Plant located immediately downstream.

After removal of the dam has been completed, the risk of a large sediment release will be eliminated. Removal of Power Dam will eliminate the risk of catastrophic failure that could result in a fish kill event, as well as remove risks to infrastructure immediately downstream.

This project will open up 80 miles of waterway for aquatic species, as well as improve sport fishing and boating opportunities. Removal of Power Dam would have a significant economic impact for this rural community, in addition to water quality benefits.

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Last updated: December 6, 2012
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.