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Meetings on the Dam Problems in Bryan Park

The two dams in Bryan Park are not compliant with state regulations and the city is exploring options on how to deal with the issue.




RVAH2O has a very informative document that clearly outlines the issue facing the dams of Bryan Park.

The City of Richmond is exploring options for bringing two City-owned 1930s-era dams located in Bryan Park into compliance with the Code of Virginia and Virginia Impounding Structures Regulations.

There are two dams along Upham Brook in Bryan Park, referred to as the upper and lower dams. The dams are located in Bryan Park’s fall line area near the confluence of Jordan’s Brach, Upham Brook, and Princeton Creek. Over 15 square miles of mixed-use land, including heavily urbanized areas, drains to the dams from upstream. The lower dam, also known as Young’s Pond Dam, is regulated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

Bryan Park’s nearly century-old dams require much-needed attention and the lower dam does not meet current DCR dam safety regulations due to its inability to safely pass the regulatory design flood. In addition to structural deficiencies, there are routine issues with both dams, including repetitive overtopping, frequent localized flooding, and the persistent presence of debris and continual erosion due to the large volumes of flow draining to the dams.

This project flyer provides an overview of the ongoing work in Bryan Park. Below, this webpage houses additional information and frequently asked questions and answers about the effort ahead.

Upcoming Public Meetings

The City will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, March 27th at 6:00 pm at the Virginia Rep Center for Arts and Education (at 4204 Hermitage Road) to talk in more detail about regulatory requirements and to answer questions about the project. The public meeting will take place in the ballroom and will include partners from the City, Henrico County, and the Commonwealth.

GRTC bus route 14 stops near the Virginia Rep Center for Arts and Education at Hermitage Road and Princeton Road, and at Hermitage Road and Westbrook Avenue.

Free parking is also available at the Virginia Rep Center for Arts and Education.

Possible solutions include:

Hazen, an on-call civil engineering firm working with the City, identified three potential options for the dams in Bryan Park.

The first option, dam rehabilitation, was deemed inadequate due to the current impounding structures’ age, material composition, and the inability to safely pass the regulatory design flood.

The second option, dam replacement, would consist of a labyrinth weir structure that would safely pass the regulatory design flood and meet the regulatory requirements. The labyrinth weir option presents a large, expensive, heavy civil engineering project that may disrupt Bryan Park’s historic character and, as a regulated structure, would still require regular maintenance and monitoring.

The third option, dam removal and ecological remediation, will decommission the dams, thus precluding any future potential regulatory action. Additionally, this option is the most environmentally friendly and ecologically beneficial as over 4,000 linear feet of Upham Brook would be reconnected, opening up 10 miles of blocked fish passage. This option is the most cost-effective option to implement and maintain in the long term. As part of this option, two bridges will be constructed to maintain pedestrian connectivity across the newly-reformed stream. The dam removal and ecological remediation option is the City’s preferred choice.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.