Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Engineers work to keep Lynchburg dam stabilized

Engineers work to keep Lynchburg dam stabilized

In a dire warning Thursday night, the National Weather Service reported the College Lake Dam could fail, and if it does, "the water depth at Lynchburg could exceed 17 feet in 7 minutes".

Some of Lynchburg is already flooded.

Lynchburg, with a population of around 80,000, is home to a number of colleges and universities, including the University of Lynchburg (previously Lynchburg College), which owns the lake the dam is located on.

Local fire and police used boats to rescue people.

8 of 459AP Evacuation-Heavy Rain-Virginia The College Lake Dam which runs under Lakeside Drive in Lynchburg, at risk of failing. Since then, the city has continued to analyze the dam to determine how to move forward.

The Virginia Department of Highways transferred ownership of the dam and roadway to the City of Lynchburg; however, the lake continues to be under the ownership of the University of Lynchburg. "This remains a unsafe situation".

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The warning comes as rain has saturated parts of the East for days, with flash-flood watches in effect Friday morning for millions from Georgia to Vermont.

Experts say the threat will last through Friday, as heavy rains are expected to return in the afternoon and evening.

Piper Van dePerre, with the Lynchburg Department of Emergency Services, told CNN affiliate WDBJ that crews are working with a list of 124 residences that need to be evacuated because of the imminent threat of a dam break.

The lake's ecosystem is degrading rapidly, the school reports, as it fills with sediment, nutrients and raw sewage, resulting in the rapid development of watershed and stormwater management problems.

The dam was built in the early '30s and, like many dams in the USA, doesn't meet current safety standards. The National Weather Service said up to 15 centimetres of rain fell within hours, filling the dam beyond capacity.

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