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Fluvanna County dam problem has residents on alert

Potential structural issues with an 11-acre Fluvanna County dam that holds back water to create McIver Lake have forced the closing of Roads near Bremo Bluff and put area residents on notice, including Dominion Energy, which operates the nearby Bremo Bluff power plant.

Fluvanna County officials say they are “monitoring an evolving situation with a privately-owned dam” located at McIver Lake. The dam has not failed, but officials are taking few chances.

“The dam does have structural issues. We do not know the age of the dam. It has not failed at this point,” said Kelly Belanger Harris, Fluvanna County Assistant Administrator.

“Even though the Department of Conservation and Recreation assures us there are no homes impacted in the inundation area, the Fluvanna Sheriff’s Office notified homeowners in the immediate area about the potential failure,” Harris said.

Although there is no indication of any immediate failure, the structural issues with the dam have the county on alert.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is also paying attention. Officials have closed Route 656/Bremo Road from the intersection with Route 657/Bremo Bluff Road to the 1400 block of Bremo Road.

Holman Creek runs near the damn and through wooded areas toward the James River. Maps indicate few residences in the area, but the creek crosses Bremo Bluff Road and runs near the decommissioned power units of the Bremo Bluff Power Station and a large ash pond.

That has the utility company paying close attention. Although the last of the four power units was decommissioned in 2019, the utility is still removing and burying in a secure landfill on the plant site several ponds of coal ash.

Bremo Bluff Power Plant first generated power in 1931, was expanded in 1950 and 1958 and then the older power units were decommissioned in 1972.

In 2014, the remaining two power generation units were converted from coal to natural gas only to be shut down in ‘cold storage’ four years later before being decommissioned the next year.

“We are monitoring the situation with the McIver Lake dam in Fluvanna County and are working closely with the county and state agencies,” Dominion officials said in prepared statement. “Safety is always our top priority, and we are taking the necessary precautions at Bremo Power Station and with other infrastructure to protect people and the environment.”

Fluvanna County officials say they will notify residents and the public of any changes in the dam status.

County updates are available by signing up on the county website for its Fluvanna Area News newsletter, called FAN Mail.


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