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Non-Guaranteed Dam Release: What Does It Mean to “Turn the River Off” Exactly?

October 13, 2016

If you’ve visited Outdoor Rafting Adventures before, you may have heard our guides talk about “guaranteed” and “non-guaranteed” release days. This distinction is particularly important in the fall, so hopefully we can shed some light on how exactly the river will work over the next few months:

We’re located on the Pigeon River, which extends from western North Carolina into East Tennessee. Situated just before our release point is the Walters Hydroelectric Plant and Damn in Waterville, NC.

Because the plant generates hydroelectric power, it periodically releases water into the river, powering most of the rapids.

The plant has scheduled release days between April and September, but during the off-months, the river is in effect “turned off.”

While the river is turned off, we still offer great white water rafting trips in the Upper Pigeon River; however, the Lower Pigeon River float trips are no longer offered (you can read more about the Upper vs. Lower rafting trips here).

Even though guaranteed release days won’t start back up again until Spring 2017, contact Outdoor Rafting Adventures at 866-333-RAFT to enjoy the Pigeon River year-round!

About Walters Hydroelectric Plant and Dam

Walters Dam is a hydroelectric dam in Haywood County of western North Carolina, in the Great Smoky Mountains. The concrete arch dam is 180 ft (55 m) high by 800 ft long, impounding the Pigeon River, near Interstate 40.

The brick powerplant actually stands 6.2 miles (10.0 km) from the dam. A tunnel 6.2 miles (10.0 km) long stretches north from the dam to the power plant, near the state line.

The Walters Dam was started in 1927 and was completed in 1930. The project was started by Carolina Power & Light and was completed by its affiliate Phoenix Electric Co.

The Carolina Power and Light Company established the community of Waterville at the mountain's northern base, near the confluence of Big Creek and the Pigeon River.

Waterville provided the labor force needed to operate the company's Walters Plant, which housed the powerhouse for the Waterville Lake reservoir further upstream.

The dam is now owned and operated by Duke Energy as an active hydroelectric facility, producing an average of 112 MW annually.

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