New Buoys and Booms installed at Claytor Lake Dam

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Appalachian Power replaced the orange buoy barrier with these new yellow buoys this summer. Additionally, an orange log boom (center right of the photo) was installed along the southeastern shore upstream from the Claytor Lake Dam. (William Paine/The Patriot)


The Patriot


Those who have ventured into the waters of Claytor Lake this summer have likely noticed a change in front of the Claytor Lake Dam.


By the start of July, all of the orange interconnected buoys extending 1600 feet across the lake upstream from the dam were replaced with brand new bright yellow buoys.


In addition, a bright orange tubular boom was installed on the southeastern shore of the lake between the dam and the yellow buoys.


This brought up some questions, such as: What is the purpose of this tubular boom and why did the buoys change color?


To find out why this change occurred, the Patriot contacted Appalachian Power’s Communication Consultant, George Porter. The first question was, what is the purpose for the line of interconnected buoys placed 1000 feet upstream from the dam?


“The boat barrier is a safety/security device to limit public access to a safe proximity to the dam,” Porter stated. “The barrier is replaced when it reaches the end of its useful life.”


According to Porter, the new buoys were made by the Ohio based Worthington Company, which only offered these buoys in the color yellow. Both the orange and yellow colors meet the high visibility standards required for this type of barrier. Porter estimates that the orange barriers that were replaced were at least 20 years old and they, in turn, replaced another older set of buoys.


Porter didn’t know if there had always been a line of buoys positioned upstream of the Claytor Lake Dam, nor did he know the cost of the buoys but stated that, “we did make a sizable investment to install these needed devises to ensure operation and community safety.”


The bright orange log boom lining the southeast shore upstream of the dam was manufactured by Pacific Netting Products of Washington State. Pieces of this large tubular log boom were trucked to the AEP owned log cabin on the northwest shore of the lake. There, they were assembled by Marine Solutions Inc. As it was pieced together, the newly assembled log boom was floated across the lake to the opposite shore, where it is currently positioned.


There is more to this orange boom than meets the eye.


A rubber skirt extends four feet below the visible part of the log boom, so as to aid in the collection of debris. The purpose of the orange boom is to prevent logs, as well as other floating debris, from reaching the intake portals of the Claytor Lake Dam.


The yellow boat/buoy barrier is meant to deter boaters/swimmers from getting too close to these intakes. Is there some sort of alarm system in place if someone breaches the barrier?


“There is no automated alarm but we monitor the entire project with security cameras,” Porter replied. “If someone is inside the area that is off limits to the public, law enforcement is notified.”


Has the barrier ever been breached?


“We are not aware of anyone ever breaching the boat barrier,” Porter replied.


This came as a surprise. From time to time a warning siren can be heard coming from the dam and I assumed it was because a boater approached too close or actually breached the barrier.


Not so. Before releasing water from the generators or the spillway, a siren blows for two minutes to warn those downstream from the dam of the impending increase in water level. This often occurs when more electricity is required for the grid, as was the case recently, with the hot weather leading to an increased demand for electricity.


The Claytor Lake Dam is capable of producing 75 Kilowatts of electric power on a daily basis.