Danville vice mayor wants to see two dams on Dan River removed

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 9:55 PM EDT
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - As peaceful as hydraulic dams may sound, you might be surprised at how powerful the water is as it crashes down.

“People don’t realized the turbulence and currents the dams cause, it’s a recirculating current that pulls you back into the dam and you can’t escape” said Danville vice mayor, Gary Miller.

The dams were put in place over 100 years ago to provide power and were used by the nearby mills. However, Miller says now they’re pretty much useless.

“The dam there in White Mill doesn’t check any of those boxes, it’s not used for hydro power, irrigation, water supply or recreation. You can’t use the river because of those dams there,” said Miller.

He also believes the dams are hurting the river’s potential for recreation.

“I seldom, if ever, have seen a boat on the river between Schoolfield dam and the two dams there; you just don’t see water activity, it’s a wasted stretch of river,” said Miller.

However, councilman Lee Vogler feels the dams add visual value to the river and fears removing them could take that away, as well as dampen their investments to the river front.

“No one has been able to tell us what that river is going to look like without the dam there; it’s been there for a hundred years. I’ve had folks tell me, who are historians, tell me before the dams was there, people could walk across the river because it was only a few inches deep,” said Vogler.

The dams discussion has not been added to the city council agenda, but both Vogler and Miller say they will be willing to work together as long as it means making the river safer.

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