Perryville Chaplin River dam closed

Published 3:45 pm Friday, June 28, 2024

Perryville Mayor Rob Kernodle announced that the city decided to close the gates on the dam of the Chaplin River in Perryville on June 20. 

He explained in a letter to local officials that due to very little rain, the Chaplin River has reached a crisis low water level. Kernodle cited a pending drought and county-wide burn ban as a further need for preserving the water level.

The city had agreed to leave the gates open to drain the river to aid Danville’s contractor in completing the new Perryville/Washington County Water Line Project. Kernodle said in the letter that he had voiced concerns previously about the project affecting the river water.

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Kernodle said in the letter on the reasons they decided to close the dam, “One of these is economic. We have our annual Turtle Derby coming up. Our Main Street Program relies heavily on this event to generate revenue for their budget. Our shop owners also benefit greatly from this with the visitors that are attracted who spend time and money shopping at our local shops. At this point I pray we receive the rain needed to fill the Chaplin for their benefit.”

“My second concern is safety. The Chaplin has historically been a source of water for fighting fires. In our current situation, I’ve been assured that we would struggle to put out a campfire. The hydrants we have on HWY 68 don’t have enough pressure to assist in any emergency and the Chaplin currently sits dry. Again, I pray that we receive the rain needed to lessen the likelihood of a fire and to provide us with the resources needed in fighting a fire.”

Danville City Manager Earl Coffey said the dam closing likely will not impact the overall schedule of the Perryville water line project. The project is almost complete and will be starting the cleanup phase soon.

However, there is still work to be done on the other side of the Chaplin River to bring the new water line to Washington County.

“The work across the river will alter the timeline for the full benefits of the project, but nothing negative in my opinion,” Coffey said.