VCU Rice Center

Roanoke sampling

Impacts of hydroelectric flow regulation on the Roanoke River

Rice Center researchers Leonard Smock, Ph.D., professor of biology and Steven McIninch, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental studies, along with Ph.D. graduate student Drew Garey, are leading a multi-year study of the impacts of flow regulation by hydroelectric dams on the Roanoke River in North Carolina. Hydropeaking, or the short-term release of large volumes of water from a dam to produce electricity, greatly increases flows in the lower Roanoke River. We are focused on determining if these hydropeaking events have an impact on the downstream fish and invertebrate communities of the river. Our studies have included examining the population and community level aspects of the fishes of the river and the abundance and downstream drifting of benthic invertebrates both near the dam and farther downstream.