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The City of Danville will hold a community meeting on Dec. 13 concerning the removal of the Brantley Steam Plant Dam.
The meeting is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Municipal Building’s second floor conference room.
Citizens attending the meeting will receive information on the removal options being proposed and how these options can improve public safety.
The meeting will be held in an information open house format. Representatives from city departments and the consultant study team will be available at the meeting to review the dam study, discuss staff recommendations, receive comments and concerns, and answer questions.
The city has made available on its main website – www.danville-va.gov – a slide presentation outlining a staff recommendation to remove the Brantley Dam.
The website also provides a link to a report from Dewberry, a professional services firm contracted by the city to study the construction, ownership, function and condition of all five dams in the city and what steps should be taken to reduce or eliminate hazards.
The access to the presentation and report is part of the city’s effort to keep citizens informed and involved if the Brantley dam is to be removed.
Rick Drazenovich, director of public works for the city, first presented the information to City Council on Nov. 4. Of the five dams located in the city, the Brantley Dam is the only one being recommended for removal. It is the only dam blamed for deaths – four since 1965, the last one taking place in April.
City council accepted the recommendation and authorized staff to proceed with the permit process for removal of the dam.
Since then, Drazenovich and his staff have been talking with various regulatory agencies, including the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Army Corps of Engineers.
In addition, conversations have taken place with town officials in Front Royal, where earlier this month the removal of the Riverton Dam was completed. Two drownings occurred at that dam this year, one in April and the other in June. Following the second drowning, the town council in July voted unanimously to expedite the removal.
The town also was able to obtain grant funding from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service for removal of the Riverton Dam, which stood for more than a century.
The Brantley Dam is a low-head dam, which is a man-made, wall-like structure built to alter a river’s flow as it runs downstream. The Brantley Dam, which stretches across the full width of the river, was built sometime after 1952 to divert water to an intake for the city’s Brantley Steam Plant, which no longer is in operation. The water intake also is no longer in use.
The dam marks the beginning of striper waters fished from the dam to the Kerr Reservoir.
Low-heads dams, however, pose a danger. As the water flows over the dam and drops to the lower level, the force creates a backwash or backward movement of water toward the dam that can trap anything that floats.
The drowning death of 5-year-old Kolton Karnes at the Brantley Dam in April prompted a review of all dams in the city.
Following the citizen information meeting on Dec. 13, the matter will come back to City Council for final authorization.
The Brantley Dam, Drazenovich said, would be a “simple” removal in which crews would take out the dam in one step. The one-step removal will be possible because a relatively small amount of sediment has built up above the dam. Tests for a variety of pollutants did not show contamination.