Dickerson Whitewater Course
Directions to the
Dickerson Whitewater Course
The Dickerson Course is owned by the NRGenergy power company. Except during special events, access requires Potomac Whitewater Racing Center membership. Additionally, participants in non-competitive coached Dickerson programs will pay a $5 per day user fee. The fee will be collected by the program coach. Blue Card holders are exempt from this fee.
Since 1959, the channel has returned cooling water from the Dickerson Generating Station to the Potomac River, 41 miles (66 km) upstream from Washington, D.C. When the plant is generating, water is pumped from the river, warmed as much as 35 °F (20 °C) as it cools the power plant’s three coal-fired generators, and then emptied into the channel for gravity flow back to the river. (The plant has three other generators which use a different cooling system). If the plant is generating, we will post that information on the PWRC website.
Beginning in spring 2011, to meet the needs of our National Senior and Junior Team athletes, on days when they are not generating power GenOn has generously agreed to pump water through the course solely for paddling. In this case, we set up a release schedule to accomodate Potomac Whitewater memebership, with specified times for Senior Team, Junior Team, slalom development, and recreational boating. Schedule is posted weekly on the PWRC home page. Note that the water in this case is “unheated”.
Streamflow through the course is 200 to 600 cfs, or cubic feet per second (5.7 to 17.0 m3/s cubic meters per second), depending on the operation of the plant’s three coal-fired generators and their six cooling water pumps.
In the summer months, when water temperature in the channel exceeds 105 °F (38 °C), the course is closed for health reasons. The course is closed when the Potomac River rises above 6 feet on the Little Falls gauge (20,000 cfs), flooding the lower section of the course.
Video of the Dickerson Whitewater Course at NORMAL Flow
Video of the Dickerson Whitewater Course at HIGH Flow
GenOn’s Dickerson Whitewater Course
Training and Workout Rules
1. Course Hours:
- When water is generating, dawn to 30 minutes before dark. NRG requires 24 hour notice for athletes coming to paddle while generating. Please send an email to the PWRC-NRG liason prior to your going out.
- When we have “pumped” water for the PWRC, paddle during your alloted slots (no notice required).
2. On the Course:
- Must wear a life vest and helmet within the low fence surrounding the course;
- No public nudity;
- No dangerous or disrespectful conduct;
3. Temporary Closures:
- Watch PWRC website for current information;
4. Access Conditions:
- Two or more Blue (or Special Event) Card holders may train together;
- Pink Card holders must be under the direction of a Green Card Coach;
- White Card holders may not paddle;
- No Paddler may train alone;
5. Course Access Route:
- You will be escorted down to the course; always arrive together with your group.
- Obey speed limits;
- Always wait for escort when leaving the course; leave as a group.
- All rules will be strictly enforced and any violation will result in an
athlete being barred from future access to the course;
- Keep access card current;
- Do not assist non-members in gaining access to the course.