College Lake Dam study underway

college lake damBeginning July 9, 2014, surveyors, engineers, and environmental scientists began gathering information about the condition of College Lake and College Lake Dam. This investigation is a result of an engineering study conducted on behalf of the City of Lynchburg to comply with new dam safety regulations that identified deficiencies with the spillway at College Lake Dam which is located on Lakeside Drive near the entrance to Lynchburg College. The study determined the spillway is not large enough to handle the flow of water which could be expected during extremely severe weather conditions, creating a potential safety hazard for those who live below the dam.

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This investigation will include conducting topographic surveys, drilling test holes, taking soil samples, determining wetland boundaries and conducting underwater investigations. The results of these tests will reveal important characteristics of the lake, dam and the underlying soil, yielding data that will be useful in making future engineering decisions.

Together, the City and Lynchburg College are investigating potential solutions and changes to the dam and adjacent areas, including strengthening the dam, removing the dam, creating a smaller lake bed, re-engineering wetlands, creating a forebay to help with ongoing sediment removal, restoring the stream to pre-dam conditions, and creating a pedestrian crossing under the roadway.

Representatives from the following companies will be gathering information in the area of the lake and dam; URS Corporation, Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc., Precision Measurements, Inc., Crofton Industries, and Triad Engineering.

“The findings from the dam study will make it possible for us to make an informed decision concerning the future of College Lake and the dam as we work to comply with the dam safety regulations,” said City Manager Kim Payne.  “We understand how important this area is, not only to Lynchburg College, but also to other interested parties in the area. The City, working with Lynchburg College, will be seeking input from the public in the near future.”

Lynchburg College President Dr. Kenneth R. Garren said, “A few years ago, Dr. Tom Shahady and I met with the highest ranking civilian in the Department of the Army in the Pentagon attempting to gain his support for revitalizing College Lake. In this meeting, we were supported by the Commander of the Army Corp of Engineers, Norfolk Division. We have had numerous meetings with many individuals and organizations in our attempt to revitalize the lake: DEQ, ACE, DCR — take any combination of three letters, and it is likely a group we have met with!”  

He also noted, “There will be opportunities in the future to learn more about this project and provide input as the City develops a better understanding of the current conditions.” He further stated, “College Lake has long been a favorite spot of students, faculty, staff and alumni, and, as such, merits top priority. I have assured our campus community that we are working closely with the City on this project to ensure the best outcome for Lynchburg College after the study is completed.”

Together, the City and College will provide opportunities for residents, College students, faculty, and staff, and the general public to learn more throughout the process. For more information, contact James Talian, Water Quality Manager-CSO, City of Lynchburg, at 434.455.3953 or or Shannon Brennan, Director of Media Relations, Lynchburg College at 434.544.8609 or .

College Lake Dam was built in 1934 by the Virginia Department of Highways (now VDOT). The dam is 35.4 feet high and about 300 feet long with a 60-foot spillway. College Lake drains 22 square miles, mostly in Lynchburg with a small portion draining in Campbell County.