Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Over The Dam - Almost

The Occoquan is my home water. It's where I row. Its a river and it is also a reservoir. No one really calls it the Occoquan river or calls it the Occoquan Reservoir. It's just called The Occoquan. Occoquan is derived from the Dogue Indian word meaning "the end of the water". It's the main source for drinking water for northern Virginia along with the Potomac River. In order to increase the amount of available water, the river is damed. The dam is located just above the historic town of Occoquan. Because of the dam, the Occoquan is pretty benign. No rapids and no real current to speak of - with one exception - when the water level is such that water is going over the dam. Like now. The flag pole at Sandy Run will display a purple flag when the water is going over the dam. A warning not to go to get to close to the dam. Besides the flag warning, there are also warning buoys as you approach the dam. The dam deserves your respect. Its a 75 foot drop if you don't. I've never gotten that close to the dam in a single. I usually head up river away from the dam. When I'm in an 8 or 4, we'll often travel down in the vicinity of the dam as the Occoquan racecourse is down by the dam. However in truth, during the summer, water is rarely flowing over the dam and therefore doesn't pose a danger.

We had a dry winter and early spring. We were 4 to 6 inches below normal. We've made that up and more here in late April, May and early June. The water level is very high at the moment and the water is pouring over the top of the dam. Truly a scenario to stay away from the dam. Apparently not everyone pays attention to water conditions. Two fishermen had to be rescued by helicopter when their boat lost engine power and the boat drifted toward the dam. Both fishermen leaped from the boat right as it went over the dam and they were holding on to a pole/uprooted tree for dear life. They were two lucky dudes. You can here/see the video of the rescue here:


Live and learn.

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