First release at Summersville Dam as Gauley Season begins

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — The first of what will be five weekend releases of water from Summersville Lake are getting started. The controlled release of water for the fall draw-down is done in conjunction with the state’s whitewater rafting industry.

“We try to provide optimum flows for fall rafting,” said Corps of Engineers Kanawha Area Operations Manager C-J Hamilton. “It will be over five four day weekends and two two day weekends ending October 20th.”

The Gauley Rafting season is the most popular time of year for West Virginia rafting outfitters. People come to West Virginia from all over the world to be part of the event. Since the early 1980’s the flows have been timed to give the companies the fall weekends to run trips during the time of the peak fall colors.

Hamilton said over the years the industry and the Corps have been able to determine a consistent flow of 2,800 cfs
is the optimal flow for rafting and kayaking.

“There is a level that is too high and a level that is too low depending on the water craft, but this is the best level for the commercial rafting industry and the kayakers love it as well.” said Hamilton.

Throughout the Corps Lakes in the Mountain State the winter draw-down is starting or will be starting very soon. Summersville is handled in a very different manner from other lakes, but each of the lakes needs to get rid of some of the water stored behind the dam ahead of winter.

“We draw down most of the reservoirs so in the off season of winter and spring when you have the most rainfall, the reservoirs are able to hold back the most water without having to go through the spillway.”

The last scheduled release is set for Sunday, October 20.





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