John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir: Ingredient in a Recipe for Disaster

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Virginia Tech


In today's world, dams have become possible bioterrorist tools to cause harm, destruction, and death. One such dam is the John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir that was created to control flooding and produce hydroelectric power for parts of Virginia and North Carolina. A history of its development as well as its many benefits to the areas surrounding the facility in terms of wildlife habitats and its recreational uses will be discussed in addition to those involved with flood control, hydroelectric power, and drinking water supply. This paper will present scenarios of a possible threat from bioterrorists as well as the possibility of an accidental compromise to the John H. Kerr Reservoir. Responses by local, state, and federal agencies to both the accidental release of the herbicide atrazine and to the purposeful contamination with the radiological material, tritium, will be presented. Because these scenarios will eventually be published online as teaching tools, questions and answers based on the materials presented have been provided for that purpose.



bioterrorism, hydrologic event, runoff, drainage, diffuse pollution, hydrologic model, water pollution