The Williamson City Council has approved an application for a West Virginia economic development grant to fund construction of the Tug River dam remediation project.
The motion was unanimously approved after a presentation by local project leader John Burchett.
The dam is necessary to hold back a few feet of river water to supply the city's drinking water intake pipe but creates a very dangerous drowning hydraulic as water passes over the top and falls to the downstream side, according to Burchett.
The remediation project plan calls for placement of various sizes of rocks to fill in below the dam and create a 200-foot long rock riffle area with a 25-foot-wide recreation navigable center channel.
The channel is planned to be on a 5% slope providing an interesting but not challenging ride through the area.
Four to six feet of boulders will be placed in "ribs" extending out from the center channel every 25 feet down the river from the water plant dam to create a mix of small pools and riffles.
"The area below the dam is a local favorite fishing hole. While it will undoubtedly be different after the project is completed, the plan has been developed to create an excellent fishery habitat for its entire 200-foot length and should remain a great fishing location," Burchett said.
"First and foremost, the project removes a very serious life safety issue from our river, but also, by opening the river to small boat navigation, provides increased local recreational and tourism opportunities," Burchett said. "Our Tug Fork River is another piece of the tourism puzzle that will tie in nicely to the Hatfield-McCoy trail system, allowing visitors more reason to extend their stay and enjoy more of what our area has to offer."
The National Coal Heritage Area Authority has been working toward getting the Tug River designated as a water trail and hopes to accomplish that goal before the end of 2019.
The water trail designation will open other resources for development of the entire length of the river.