Feature

Tales of the Undammed

Removing barriers doesn't automatically restore river health

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7:33pm, April 4, 2004

An unusual explosion along the Rappahannock River on Feb. 23 defined the day for thousands of onlookers. As planned, at least 650 pounds of explosives blasted a 40-meter-long hole through the bottom of Embrey Dam near Fredericksburg, Va. Immediately, the water began to flow as it hadn't in about 150 years, since the predecessor to this 6.7-m-tall barrier was constructed. Local, state, and federal officials had determined that the dam, which no longer contributed to the local water supply, was too expensive to maintain and blocked fish movement.

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