College Lake Dam listed among "High Hazard" dams in Virginia

Published: Aug. 3, 2018 at 1:18 AM EDT
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Flooding over College Lake Dam in Lynchburg led to the evacuation of nearly 120 structures downstream due to fear of possible dam failure.

Should the dam break, it is estimated a 17 foot wall of water will move downstream in about 7 minutes, flooding many areas along Blackwater Creek.


College Lake Dam was built in the 1930s by the Virginia Department of Highways and is now listed among "high hazard dams" in need of repair in Virginia.

College Lake is a manmade lake, built in the early 1930s by the Virginia Department of Highways as part of the development of U.S. Highway 460, west of Lynchburg. The road, now U.S. 221, needed expansion and improvement. To assist with this project, Lynchburg College gave a piece of its land to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the construction of an earthen dam which impounded Blackwater Creek and created College Lake on the property of then Lynchburg College. 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.

Because the sediment from the City’s runoff is trapped above the dam, the lake has dramatically reduced in size. The original surface area of the lake was reported to be 44 acres and has been reduced to 19 acres due to sedimentation.

A recent report shows two solutions to either rehabilitate the dam, or completely decommission the dam.