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New water control plan at Kerr Lake dam will benefit environment, local fish and game species


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun implementing a revised water control plan at Kerr Lake dam, as negotiated by the Corps, the state’s lead environmental agency, other state and federal agencies, non-government organizations and Dominion.

Under the revised plan, when the water level in Kerr Lake is above the new guidelines, water releases from the dam that flow into the Roanoke River and floodplain will occur in larger amounts and for shorter periods of time than they have in the past.

“This plan has been in the works for a number of years, and I’m pleased to see it come to fruition,” said Jay Zimmerman, director of the state’s water resources division. “Our agency was a funding partner with the Corps and our staff invested hundreds of hours in studies and modeling to produce the plan revision. The final outcome will be long-term ecological and economic benefits for the Roanoke River Basin.” 

Reducing the duration of flooding events will have a positive impact on many species in the area, including native vegetation; bird species such as wood thrush and prairie warbler; aquatic species such as green floater mussels; and several fish species, including striped bass, American shad, alewife, blueback herring, and the federally endangered Atlantic and shortnose sturgeons.

Implementation of the revised plan will also have long-term positive effects on game animals such as wood duck, white-tailed deer, and eastern wild turkeys. In addition, the more than 7,000 acres of state and federal conservation lands along the Roanoke River will be more widely available for public use.

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