Water Level at Potomac River Dams 4 and 5 to Be Lowered to Allow Inspection

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Date: July 22, 2016
Contact: Hollie Lynch, 301-491-0149

Williamsport, Md. -­ Weather permitting, on August 1 through August 5, 2016, the water level of the Potomac River reservoir impounded by Dam #4 and Dam #5 will be lowered approximately 6 inches to allow the National Park Service to conduct an annual visual inspection of the dams and photographic documentation.In addition, the US Bureau of Reclamation will be conducting a LiDAR scan of both structures to establish a baseline location and position of the dams and abutments.Once this baseline is established, additional LiDAR scans can be done in the future to determine if the dams or abutments have moved or shifted.


The water drawdown will begin at Dam #4 at 6 AM on August 1st and the drawdown will continue until the water level is approximately 4 inches below the crest of the dam.This will allow inspectors to see the entire dam and crest without the normal water veil.The water level at Dam #4 is scheduled to be kept at this level until the evening of August 2nd.At that time, the water will slowly be brought back up to normal levels.
The water drawdown will begin at Dam #5 at 6 AM on August 3rd and the drawdown will continue until the water level is approximately 4 inches below the crest of the dam.The water level at Dam #5 is scheduled to be kept at this level until the evening of August 4th.At that time, the water will slowly be brought back up to normal levels.

The water drawdown at both dams will be accomplished by diverting water through the hydroelectric plants located at both dams.Visitors are welcomed to observe both dams during this drawdown.
The drawdown of the Potomac River water levels is dependent on the weather, existing water levels in the river, and the ability of the hydroelectric plants to divert and use the water to produce electricity.Therefore the dates and times of the drawdown and the return to normal water levels may fluctuate.Boat and dock owners in the reservoirs of both dams are encouraged to prepare for this drawdown by properly adjusting or positioning their boats and/or docks.Boaters should also use caution since obstacles not normally present may become a hazard due to the lower levels.

Please call the C&O Canal Headquarters at 301-­714-4200 for more information.



Last updated: July 22, 2016

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