RICHMOND, Va. — The aroma around the Haxall Canal will be heightened by a small number of dead fish as a result of the canal draining currently underway through August 10.
The draining, which began August 4, will be performed by the Stormwater Utility of the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) so that an aerial survey of the interior of the canal can be conducted. The Haxall Canal was previously drained and dredged of sediment in 2008, and is done every 10 to 15 years as needed.
Drawbacks to the process include odors due to stagnant water, a small number of fish that could be killed, and unpleasant aesthetics as a result of no water remaining in the canal. DPU announced in a release that they have partnered with the Department of Game and Inland Fishery to provide assistance with fish trapped in the canal when drained.
The survey is being done due to the accumulation of large quantities of sediment from the James River. The sediment buildup has reached levels that undermine the functionality of the structures that control water levels in the canal and detract from the aesthetic features, according to city officials.
“A survey of the canal interior will allow DPU to better assess the amount of sediment that has to be removed,” DPU Director Calvin Farr said. “We are doing an aerial survey because it’s the most cost-effective and practical method to obtain the data we need.”
The Haxall Canal extends from the west end of Brown’s Island to the 12th Street water level control structure.
Warm weather is optimal for this process for both the operating and measurement equipment used, according to the city. The recent rainfall also makes the timing ideal and the higher river levels will allow for faster refill.
In addition to routine dredging maintenance, the canal is periodically drawn down to lower levels for maintenance most often associated with cleaning trash and debris that undermine the functionality of the head gates and level control structure.
The Canal Cruises operated by Venture Richmond are currently postponed until the draining and dredging of the Haxall Canal are complete.