Dates Scheduled for First New River Dries Releases (WV)
Last week, the first ever pulse flow releases were scheduled on the New River Dries, located near Gauley Bridge, WV. These releases were designed to support intermediate level whitewater paddling and to restore natural flow variability to a river reach that has been largely dewatered by the Hawks Nest Hydropower Project for generations. The releases are a requirement of the new 47-year federal dam license issued in late 2017. The releases will occur in March, June, July, and possibly August of this and future years. American Whitewater played a lead role in negotiating these releases.
Releases will be between 2,200cfs and 2,500cfs, and will be provided if inflows to the dam are between 3,800cfs and 12,500cfs. At flows under 3,800 there is insufficient flow to provide releases, and above 12,500 the dam is spilling and releases are moot. Releases cancelled due to flow conditions will be recheduled for the next weekend on which there are no releases already scheduled. The release dates are in two blocks, a March series and a summer series.
Two March Releases:
- Scheduled: March 16 & 17
- Alternate Dates: March 23, 24, 30, 31. If the scheduled releases are cancelled, releases will be rescheduled for these dates until 2 releases have been provided. Releases not provided by March 31 will not be rescheduled. This is a natural season of high flows so expect some dates to be rescheduled or cancelled.
Seven Summer Releases
- June 29 & 30
- July 6 & 7
- July 13 & 14
- July 20
- Alternate Dates: All weekend dates between July 21 and August 31 will serve as alternates. Cancelled summer releases will be rescheduled on the first weekend days in this timeframe on which there is not a release already scheduled. Releases not provided by August 31 will not be rescheduled. This is a season of natural low flows, so expect some releases to be rescheduled or cancelled due to inadequate flows.
On March 1, 2019, the dam owner will release a new website (presumably an updated version of this one) that offers flow forecasting, realtime flow information, and release information. This will help paddlers plan ahead for releases. The dam owner has also purchased and is developing a new take-out, and is making enhancements at the Cotton Hill put in. As the summer releases near, we'll update paddlers on where to park and how to best access the run.
Enjoy the New River Dries!
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Macklin.