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Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance Mega-Project

Huntington District
Published Jan. 4, 2024

Bluestone Dam began operations in 1949 and is located in West Virginia in Summers County approximately one and a half miles upstream of the City of Hinton. The dam is a conventional concrete gravity dam measuring nearly a 0.5 mile long and 165 feet tall. Bluestone Dam is a multi-purpose project.  
To learn more about Bluestone Dam, please scroll down to IMPORTANT FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Kanawha Basin
Kanawha Basin
Kanawha Basin
Kanawha Basin
Kanawha Basin
Photo By: Huntingotn District
VIRIN: 240318-A-A1409-002
Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance Mega-Project
Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance Mega-Project
Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance Mega-Project
Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance Mega-Project
Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance Mega-Project
Photo By: Huntington District
VIRIN: 240318-A-A1409-001

Bluestone Dam’s primary purpose is to reduce flood risks throughout the New, Kanawha, and Ohio River valleys. It has reduced flood damages in excess of $5.9 billion during its life. To learn how Bluestone Dam helps reduce flood damages, please expand the Reducing Flood Risk  folder to the right. To seek the current status of inflow and outflow at the dam, can be found at: http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan/bln


A Dam Safety Assurance Mega Project: A Dam Safety Assurance (DSA) report was approved in 1998 to address deficiencies that could lead to a breach of the project. A breach would cause catastrophic flooding along the largest river valleys in West Virginia that include the capital city of Charleston and major manufacturing and chemical industries.

Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance Mega-Project
Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance
Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance Mega-Project
Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance Mega-Project
Bluestone Dam, Dam Safety Assurance
Photo By: Huntington District
VIRIN: 240318-A-A1409-003
Dam failure could put 165,000 lives at risk and result in property damages in excess of $20B. Investments approved by a 1998 Dam Safety Assurance (DSA) (Phases 1-4) study have increased confidence in the dam’s ability to store water to its original design elevation (lake elevation of 1520 feet).  The DSA work, now underway, consists of increasing outflow capacity with an auxiliary spillway (or penstocks), stabilizing the dam with anchors to prevent sliding and allowing it to hold more water and lastly to pass more water through the primary spillway and prevent scouring of the stilling basin. This work (phases 1-4) was completed in 2019. To learn more about the DSA please expand the Dam Safety Assurance Mega Project folder to the right

Phase 5 Has Started: Since the approval of the 1998 DSA report, an additional concern was identified and labeled as scouring. The primary spillway cannot pass significant flows without substantially increasing the potential for damage to the dam from water scouring the stilling basin.  An additional study was completed to identify a plan to address this additional deficiency.  Phase 5 began in 2019 with the construction of a temporary dam to bisect the stilling basin. In 2020, the major work was started with Brayman Construction Corporation to upgrade and armor the stilling basin against potential scour, complete the stability anchoring of the dam and return the construction site to a public recreational area.  The right half of the stilling basin is under construction now until 2025 and the whole project is scheduled to be completed in 2029.  For more information on Phase 5, please expand the Phase 5 Investment folder.

Your Flood Risks:  Bluestone Dam, like all dams, reduces the risk of flooding but does not eliminate it. Extreme storms can exceed Bluestone Dam’s ability to slow storm water requiring releases. In addition, storms can occur downstream of Bluestone Dam or along the multitude of uncontrolled streams in the New and Kanawha River valleys, including the Greenbrier River, the Meadow River, the Lower Gauley, Paint Creek, Cabin Creek and the Coal River that can cause flooding. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works diligently to ensure our dams work to reduce flood risks; but we cannot eliminate them. If you live in a river valley, regardless if there is dam, your life and property are at risk of flooding. To learn more about your flood risks and what you can do to reduce them, please expand the Flood Risk Awareness  folder and visit  www.FloodSmart.gov.  To monitor current river and lake conditions within the Kanawha River basin, please visit http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan



Public Safety is the #1 Priority of the US Army Corps of Engineers

Ongoing construction at Bluestone Dam is being conducted to increase the stability of Bluestone Dam and reduce life-safety risks.
Bluestone Dam reduces flood risk throughout the New and Kanawha River Valley all the way to the Ohio River and beyond, including the State Capital of Charleston, West Virginia.

Without further investment, the dam will continue to pose an unacceptable risk of failure, causing catastrophic consequences downstream including significant loss of life, and emptying Bluestone Lake permanently.


Starting 2020, the dam's routine outflow was reduced so that the lake will go out of pool any time flows coming into the lake equals or exceeds 10,000 cubic feet per second.

As a result, Bluestone's Lake level changes more frequently. Meaning boat ramps, parking lots, campgrounds and other features of Bluestone State Park and Wildlife Management Area will flood more often at higher levels and for longer times.

This condition is likely to last throughout the 2020's.


SIGN UP FOR TEXT ALERTS CONCERNING THE LEVEL OF BLUESTONE LAKE

Click or visit the following link:
https://maps.waterdata.usgs.gov/mapper/wateralert/ 
From there, you can sign up for text and/or email alerts. 
As a reminder, Summer Pool (1 Apr-1 Dec) is elevation 1410-11 ft. The boat launch, known as “The Pits” goes under water at elevation 1412 ft​
Search for Bluestone Lake in “Search by Place Name” or “03179800” in “Search by Site Number(s)”
Click on the  Grey teardrop tab on the map at the location of Bluestone Dam
From there click, "Subscribe to WaterAlert"

Click or visit the link below for current inflow, outflow and lake level information as well as pool references.
http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wm/?basin/kan/bln


FORECASTED INFLOWS

Starting in 2020 and through most of the 2020’s, anytime flows coming into Bluestone Lake equals or exceeds 10,000 cubic feet per second, the lake will go out of pool and potentially flood boat launches, parking and even campgrounds.

Today, inflows above 24,000 cubic feet per second have the same effect.

To review a 7 day forecast by the National Weather Service of a potential range of inflows to Bluestone Lake, click or visit the link below:

https://www.weather.gov/erh/mmefs_ohrfc?id=BLUW2&model=NAEFS

At this link, you will find a number of possible inflows to Bluestone Lake as forecasted by the National Weather Service. While there is no guarantee any of these forecasts will or will not occur, it is generally the best way to assess the risk of Bluestone Lake having to go out of its normal pool. 

Generally speaking, the forecasts tend to be more accurate the closer to the present day.

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