Exercising Safety at Bluestone Dam

The Center for Educational Technologies has never limited its efforts in meshing the latest in technology with best practices in education. That means that our work applies just as much to adult audiences as the typical middle school student. Over the last few years the center has expanded its efforts into safety training. Much work has been done with the International Union of Operating Engineers in revising and creating training materials for that organization. In 2011 the center took on a major safety training initiative for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Corps' Dam Safety Assurance program.

In Southern West Virginia in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains sits Bluestone Lake on the New River. The lake is manmade, created in the 1940s when the Bluestone Dam was built in Hinton by the U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers, anchored between two ridges of those daunting hills. While the lake has developed into a recreation hotspot for boaters, skiers, and fishermen, the dam was built not for leisure, but to reduce the damages caused by flooding.

The New River begins in North Carolina and flows through Virginia into West Virginia. Bluestone Lake and Dam help drain 4,565 square miles, an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined and the biggest of any dam in West Virginia. The Corps of Engineers operates Bluestone Lake as a system with Summersville and Sutton Lakes to control flooding in the Kanawha River basin. Since the system began operating in 1949, the Corps estimates that it has prevented almost $5 billion in flood damage downstream, which includes the state capital of Charleston. The Kanawha Valley isn't totally protected from flooding, though. While Bluestone, Summersville, and Sutton control a little more than half of the Kanawha Valley drainage from rain and snowmelt, an uncontrolled area that includes the Greenbrier River north of Charleston is nearly as large as the Bluestone drainage area.

This year a team of educational experts at the Center for Educational Technologies created a one-day exercise bringing together Corps employees, state and local emergency responders, and others with a stake in reducing risk at the dam. The event culminated at the Huntington District offices in July. Much was learned by all parties about how people would respond should a major precipitation event cause risk at the dam.

The second part of this project has involved the team at the center designing posters for public meetings about the construction work taking place at the dam along with a public service announcement video. That work is ongoing.

© 1999-2019 by Wheeling Jesuit University/Center for Educational Technologies®.
316 Washington Ave., Wheeling WV, 26003-6243. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.