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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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Jun 30

Walkers Dam and Chickahominy River Boat Lock Reopens

Posted on June 30, 2016 at 9:28 AM by Communications Department

Boaters can now traverse the dam

After substantial rehabilitation and boat lock redesign, the Walkers Dam and Chickahominy River Boat Lock reopened on Tuesday, June 28.
Walkers Dam and Spillway_SC
In spring of 2007, evidence of a breach in the dam was discovered by Waterworks’ operators and the dam and lock were closed to the public. Due to a complete collapse of the boat lock and subsequent failure of adjacent sections of the dam itself, potentially leading to a cascading failure, an extensive redesign and an emergency stabilization effort to protect the uncompromised sections of the dam became necessary.

Additional investigation, design, and construction work was performed by consultants, contractors, and subcontractors until project completion. Challenges to completion of the project included regulatory restrictions on construction activities established to protect migrating fish traveling up the Chickahominy River. Boat lock redesign, rehabilitation, and re-inspection were necessary to ensure safe, efficient operation for boaters traveling in either direction on the Chickahominy River. Walkers Dam Boat Lock_SC

Originally built in the early 1940’s by the War Department, the City of Newport News purchased the dam and pumping station soon after the war and has maintained and operated them ever since. The dam creates the lake from which Newport News Waterworks withdraws the majority of its raw water to sustain its treatment process for public water supply. The dam is located 22 miles above where the Chickahominy enters the James River and is a tidal barrier (about three feet above sea level) that minimizes saltwater intrusion into the upstream water supply intakes.