A US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)-led project including planners, wildlife specialists, explosives experts and divers blew a series of holes in the dam in February this year, allowing the free flow of water in the Rappahannock river and upriver spawning of American shad for the first time in over 150 years.

The team was presented with the 2004 Coastal America Partnership Award in Washington DC last week. Coastal America Partnership was set up in 1992 to preserve coastal watersheds, with the first of its national prizes awarded in 1997.

Before its breach, Embrey dam had last been used to generate hydro power in the 1960s.

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