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Richmond Opposes Bosher’s Dam Hydroelectric Plant

Andy Thompson

@richmondoutside
April 22, 2016 7:40am
The view looking south down Bosher's Dam. Credit: Phil Riggan

The view looking south down Bosher’s Dam. Credit: Phil Riggan

Did you see the news in this morning’s Times-Dispatch? According to the piece by Robert Zullo, Energy Resources USA Inc. is seeking to study the feasibility of building a hyrdoelectric facility at the already existing Bosher’s Dam on the James River.

If you’re not familiar with Bosher’s Dam, it’s the one you see looking upstream when you cross the Willey Bridge. According to the Falls of the James Atlas by Bill Trout, the 12-foot-high dam was built in 1823 on the site of Fore’s Fish Dam. It used to be a spot for trapping fish with slat dams, which is illegal now. Bosher’s Dam was extensively rebuilt in 1835 to its current height of 12 feet. It was constructed to provide water for grist mills, the Kanawha canal systems and other developments. It is a feeder dam, backing up the river so that it can flow through controlling gates and a guard lock into the canal.

According to Zullo’s article, the “city of Richmond is opposing the permit filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…raising questions about the necessity of the new power source, how water withdrawal rights would be obtained” and the proximity of the proposed facility to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ fish ladder that was built in 1999 to allow anadromous fish to navigate the dam upstream to spawn.

Here’s another objection: It would be a giant eyesore. There would be four turbine generators of 2 megawatts each installed in a powerhouse with a 197-foot by 65-foot powerhouse. There’d also be a 700 foot long by 180-foot wide intake area upstream of the existing dam and a 300-foot-long tailrace below the dam where the water exits the powerhouse. This in an area with osprey and bald eagle nests, wild turkey and whitetail deer.

Click here to see the T-D article and learn more. Click here to explore above and below Bosher’s Dam with the Terrain360.com view of the James River.


About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?


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