Huntington, W.Va. – Over the next two weeks Public hearings hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District will be offered in Hinton, Montgomery and Charleston, W.Va., to take comments about the proposed dam safety work and environmental impacts that could occur during construction at Bluestone Dam, in Hinton, W.Va.
Hearings will be offered: on Sept. 29 at the Charleston Civic Center, Classroom 202 at 200 Civic Center Drive in Charleston; on Oct. 4 at the WVU Institute of Technology, Tech Center Activity Room at 405 Fayette Pike in Montgomery; and Oct. 6 at the Summers County Memorial Building at 451 First Avenue in Hinton. An open house with Corps project staff available to discuss the project one-on-one will begin at each location at 6 p.m. The formal public hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Bluestone Dam is an important piece of West Virginia infrastructure which helps reduce flood hazards to the entire New and Kanawha River valleys, all the way through Charleston and to Point Pleasant and beyond on the Ohio River. In fact, nearly half of the water that flows through Charleston comes from Bluestone Dam, which has helped reduced flood damages in excess of $5 billion.
The Corps is currently implementing significant modifications to the project to address dam safety issues. A recent risk assessment of the Bluestone Dam identified additional life safety concerns that are not addressed by the ongoing work. Therefore, to further reduce the risk of dam failure, the Corps is proposing additional significant investments that could take approximately 10 years to implement.
While proposed investments would reduce life-safety risks associated with breach and help Bluestone Dam continue to provide the public and surrounding environment benefits; environmental impacts during construction may result to downstream botanical, wildlife, and aquatic resources through the temporary placement of fill material into the river. Recreational features and spaces located at and adjacent to the dam that are currently closed, would remain closed during this additional work. An existing fishing pier would be closed during construction. Access to fishing in the New River, immediately downstream of Bluestone Dam, would also be restricted for safety purposes. During construction, outflow from the dam would be reduced for routine flood storage. Therefore, Bluestone Lake may fluctuate more often, for longer durations and higher elevations when storing waters to reduce flood risk downstream. This could result in upstream impacts to natural and recreational resources due to the increase in inundation time, depth and frequency. Mitigation is proposed for any identified significant impacts and potential mitigation will be discussed at the public hearings.
Questions regarding the public meeting can be sent to BluestoneDamDSA@usace.army.mil, or directed to the Public Affairs Office at 304‐399‐5599.
In addition to attending the hearings, the public is invited to comment on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act for the Bluestone Dam Safety Modification Project. The SDEIS will supplement the 1998 Final Environmental Impact Statement, which was prepared to address modifications needed to safely pass extreme flood events.
The SDEIS can be accessed at: http://www.lrh.usace.army.mil/Missions/PublicReview.aspx. Comments can be submitted at the meeting or by mail to: Chief, Environmental Analysis Section, Planning Branch, Huntington District Corps of Engineers, 502 Eighth Street, Huntington, W.Va. 25701‐2070.