The six-year saga of the Chandler’s Mill Pond Dam, and the frustrations linked to it, have been the running joke of Westmoreland County ever since the first round of delays took place back when the dam first broke in 2015 after a severe storm undermined the dam. The county residents looked to be having a bone tossed their way during the mess that was 2020 when the dam’s repairs were complete and the pond was once again full.
Then, in November, it became obvious that the spillways were hopelessly clogged when the pond didn’t just overflow its boundaries, but completely inundated Route 3. This in turn led to the spillway being opened until the problems could be fixed. The fixes were slated to take place this year, but then the deluge in May took place, which was something akin to a 200-year-flood. As a result of those rains, a chunk of the dam itself was seemingly carved out. Since then, Ryan Brown, the Executive Director at Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources, has been going to and fro in order to get this particular monkey off his back.
Having previously spoken to the Montross Town Council back in June, he now turned his attention towards Westmoreland County’s Board of Supervisors, appearing before the Board at their monthly meeting last week and bearing news on what was being done, and how soon he hoped to be rid of this mess.
“I took over my post around the time we thought the Chandler’s Mill Pond Dam project was coming to a close,” he stated, “In fact, I never thought I’d have to worry about that project ever again. Boy howdy was I wrong!”
Fortunately, procurement of funds for the dam project, in light of the epic flooding that took place in May, was fast-tracked. A new engineer has also been hired.
“We have two goals here,” Brown continued, “The first is to make sure that Route 3 is not impacted anymore in the short term. Beyond that, the Commonwealth, our agency, and our license purchasers have invested a lot of money out there, and we have a public that wants water there again. We have to figure that out as well.”
The first step is the removal of the screening, which was the cause of the November clogging after dead grass and vegetation at the bottom of the pond floated up and effectively sealed the drains shut. The spillway has also been repaired, and an area of the dam that gave way during the May flood will be repaired and given a spillway. With the changes made, once the pond is filled again, it is speculated that the water level should be a foot below what it originally came out to after the dam’s initial completion back in 2020. Brown is determined at this point to not have the dam creep up with another problem.
“I’d love to be before this board on other projects,” he stated, “But I do NOT want to have to be back in front of this Board, explaining what went wrong at the Chandler’s Mill Pond again.”
Brown further stated that in order to keep this mess from happening again, the dam’s design will go into a thorough review before it is implemented, and several community meetings will be held. Presently, costs of the whole ordeal have run up to the millions, though the exact figures were not available at the time of the meeting. The full rundown will be given the next time Brown comes before the Board of Supervisors with another update.