Smith Mountain Combination Pump Storage Dam (Smith Mountain Lake)

Field Descriptions

Dam Name: Smith Mountain Combination Pump Storage
NID ID: VA01902
Longitude: -79.53833
Latitude: 37.04111
State: VA
Nearest City: ALTAVISTA
Distance: 25.00 miles
Owner Type: Public Utility
Private Dam? No
Core: Homogeneous Dam (Position)
Concrete (Type)
Known (Certainty)
Foundation: RK
Purposes: Hydroelectric
Year Completed: 1964
Dam Length: 816 feet
Dam Height: 222 feet
Structural Height: 237 feet
Hydraulic Height: 205 feet
Maximum Discharge: 50000 cu ft/sec
Maximum Storage: 1142000 acre-feet
Normal Storage: 1142000 acre-feet
Surface Area: 20600 acres
Drainage Area: 1024 square miles
Hazard Potential: High
Emergency Action Plan? Yes
Inspection Date: 2012-04-11
Inspection Frequency: 1
State Regulated Dam? No
State Regulating Agency: DCR
Spillway Type: Uncontrolled
Spillway Width: 200 feet
Federal Regulatory Agency:
Federal Inspection Agency:
Source Agency:

Dam Safety For Boats

A large amount of water can be released from a dam without any warning at any time and by any means. For example, when the demand for electricity is high, the turbines at a dam may be turned on automatically, resulting in a significant increase in the downstream flow of water in only a matter of seconds.

If there's a need to release water through the sluiceways (outlets at the base of the dam), this operation can also create a great swell of discharged water downstream.

During flood operations, any or all spillway gates across the width of a dam can be opened to release upstream flood water that needs to pass to the next downstream reservoir. Upstream or downstream, even the most experienced boater with the strongest motor is no match for this strong flow of water plunging over a spillway of a dam. Even if you're boating far downstream of a spilling dam, recirculating current can pull a powerful boat upstream toward plunging water that could shred any boat.

Some dams equipped with navigation locks create turbulent water as well. When vessels pass through, strong flow is released near the exhaust ports of the wing wall of the lock.

Warning Systems At Dams

To warn reservoir users of potential danger, warning devices are installed at many dams:

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