News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR To Start Savage River Dam Repairs

Anglers Should Use Caution

Vienna, Md. (September 21, 2009) – Drawdown of the Savage Reservoir in Garrett County for flood gate repairs is expected to begin in early October. Disruption to normal operations will continue through early spring of next year.

Inspections in the fall of 2007 revealed an inoperable gate, prompting engineers to restrict normal water operations at the dam and forcing officials to seek funding for a permanent repair. Federal Economic Stimulus money made the $6 million repair possible.

DNR has been working closely with the Upper Potomac River Commission, the Maryland Department of Environment and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine the schedule and repair procedures to best protect the nationally acclaimed wild brook and brown trout fishery below the dam. DNR remains cautiously optimistic that wild trout populations will be preserved, though, some negative impacts to reproduction and adult abundance are anticipated.

Savage River discharge levels during drawdown will be approximately 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) plus inflow from the tributaries upstream. Anglers are reminded to use high water precautions while wading due to high river levels and fast currents.

Repairs will start in early November once lake elevation is reduced to 1,410 feet. River levels will greatly vary during this period from as low as 10 cfs when workers are in the tunnel to higher levels necessary to keep the lake at 1,410 feet during other times.

From mid-November through late December 2009, the discharge will be approximately 60 cfs plus upstream inflow while the lake is being completely drained for final repairs. Anglers may notice considerable turbidity during this time. Once reservoir drawdown is complete, the river will run at natural levels for most of the winter and will match flow entering the reservoir. All work should be complete by early spring 2010 and refilling the lake will begin at that time.

Sadly and unavoidably, the project will result in the loss of fish populations in the reservoir. It is likely that many of these fish will move downstream and be available to anglers in the North Branch Potomac River. A re-stocking plan has been developed to restore fish populations in the reservoir as quickly as possible.

DNR encourages anglers to take advantage of the fine fishing still available in the system through the early fall.

   September 21, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at