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Multi-agency coordination leads to successful dam removal, Simkins Dam, Patapsco River Maryland

Information presented is factual at the time of creation.
If no transcript and/or closed-caption is available, please notify us.
[Music playing]


Faith: So we're standing really close


to where the dam was removed, the


Simkins dam on the Patapsco River,


close to Ellicott City in Maryland.


It's one of the four dams on the


Patapsco, two of which have been taken


out recently. I have some of the people


standing here with me that were key to


having this happen. Serena, what's some


of the history here, why this dam could be removed?


Serena: We're actually, like you said,


there are found dams on the Patapsco.


The dam upstream of this, the Union


dam, was actually under consideration


for removal by the Maryland Department


of Natural Resources. It was the only


dam that was reached by hurricane


Agnes, in the 1970s, so that particular


one was one that had already been in


the works for several years. Downstream


of this, the Bloede dam, is also owned


by the Department of Natural Resources


and there have been about ten people


that have died at that structure. So


it's a real safety hazard. So the park


and DNR, have a vested interest in


seeing that dam removed as well.


So really what you had was this


privately owned dam in the middle of


it. Luckily, the mill associated with


the dam, which most recently


manufactured recycled cardboard,


actually burnt mostly down in 1995. So


the dam was currently serving no


function. Again, it could have broken


up the potential for contiguous set of


removals. So we approached the


landowner and wondering if he'd give us


permission to just yank the dam out.


And he was very supportive of doing


that. And all that kind of came on the


top of the fact that the Maryland


Department of Natural Resources, their


fisheries department, have been doing


monitoring on the Patapsco, at the fish


ladders that were on all these dams and


had been able to document the fact that


the ladders that were here were


actually ineffective for passing some


of the target species like alewife,


blueback herring, and American eel. And


so, what better way to pass these fish


than removing the dam.


Faith: Matt NOAA played a part on this


as well. What is some of the background
on their role?


Matt: Sure, I'm part of the National


Marine Fisheries Service part of NOAA


and we have an interest in marine fish


that Serena was just describing these


diadromous fish. They spend some part


of their lifecycle in fresh water and


some of their life cycle in the ocean.


And so they need to travel between the


two. And we have a fish passage program


as part of our restoration center that


provides funding and technical


assistance to try and get these


projects done. So that's basically our


role how we've been a funder and and


folks like myself, we give technical assistance.



We give funding for implementation as



well as, especially in this case, we


fund monitoring of project results –


for lots of reasons. Obviously, you


want to know the effectiveness of the


project for the fish passage. But these


projects have also other implications.


For example, in this case, we have a


large accretion of sand behind the dam


that we released through the removal.


We don't always release sediments


accreted behind the dam when we do


removals, but that's increasingly


becoming a – I don't know about a


preferred – but an appealing technique.


Because it can be a lot less costly if


the sediments are cleaned. But,


obviously, downstream interests, both


living, biotic, aquatic resources,


floodplain animals and whatnot and


humans, go through human life and


property have interests downstream. So


we have a strong interest in


understanding in detail, the effects of


that kind of sediment load and so, as


you'll hear, I'm sure, from these two


more about those efforts to learn more


details about those impacts. And


importantly, the recovery rates of the


downstream reach of those kinds of impacts.


Faith: That's great. We have a lot of


sediment. What's the story behind this


dam, especially sand—Allen your


background is in looking at physical


processes and how rivers change, what


do you expect to see as the sediment is released?


Allen: Well, what's important is that


rivers are in an equilibrium, with


sediment, slope and water, and when we


remove a dam we have the potential to


change any of those factors. Now


sediment moves as bedload and suspended sediment.


Faith: So like in the water and on the bed of the channel…?


Allen: Right, so we have sand behind


the dam to move along the bed or in


suspension. The release of that


sediment has the potential to actually


change the channel morphology. So we


need to understand how that


potentially could happen and how that


can affect habitat. So we're interested


in both understanding bedload transport


as a result of removal, as well as the


finer material in suspension that has


the ability to bury the habitat, or go


downstream and affect Chesapeake Bay.


Faith: So, as part of it, so we're


looking at effects both upstream of the


dam too and how much a sediment is


coming out and where it's all going.


And that takes some for that to happen,


right; it doesn't all go out in one big


pulse of release kind of thing. So


Graham, McCormick Taylor is doing some


of the work, what's kind of a scale of


what you have to do to be able to


monitor some of those changes?


Graham: Well, we've established a


series of 31 different cross sections,


extending from about a mile upstream of


the dam, all the way down, pretty close


to the mouth near the inner Harbor. So


it's going to include facies mapping,


where we're going to actually map the


river – the way the river looks so that


we can tell before and after the dam


removal, what the bed of the river


looks like. We're also going to be able


to quantify the amount of sediment that


is being deposited in these areas, and


the amount of sediment that's been


released from the dam.


Faith: You're kind of tracking it


through… and how long are you going to


have to do that for?


Graham: That's going to go on for five years.


Faith: Five years?


Graham: We're going to do a series of


six different surveys, twice a year,


and then following one larger storm


event. Hopefully a hurricane.


Faith: Great. Yes, a lot of different pieces.


[Music playing]


[End of Audio]

Details

Title: Multi-agency coordination leads to successful dam removal, Simkins Dam, Patapsco River Maryland

Description:

Faith Fitzpatrick (U.S. Geological Survey) and Serena McClain (American Rivers, Director, River Restoration) discuss the history of how the dam removal became possible. Allen Gellis (USGS Maryland Water Science Center) discusses the importance of monitoring sediment transport related to dam removal. Matt Collins (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) describes NOAA's Fish Passage Program and how NOAA works to fund implementation and monitoring of dam removals. Graham Boardman (McCormick Taylor) discusses geomorphic monitoring and mapping, and sediment releases associated with dam removal.

Location: MD, Patapsco River, USA

Date Taken: 3/23/2011

Length: 6:33

Video Producer: Douglas A. Harned , National Water-Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA), USGS, North Carolina Water Science Center, Raleigh, NC


Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological Survey for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this video.

Additional Video Credits:

Faith Fitzpatrick: Scriptwriter, Narrator, Scientist Consultant

Gerard McMahon: Producer

Douglas Harned: Producer, Video, Editor

Alan Cressler: Video

Luke Myers: Video

Jim Thompson: Video

Serena McClain (American Rivers, Director, River Restoration)

Allen Gellis (USGS Maryland Water Science Center)

Matt Collins (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Graham Boardman (McCormick Taylor)

File Details:

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In: Water collection

Tags: AmericanRivers DamRemoval DouglasHarned EUSE FaithFitzpatrick Habitat Hydrology Maryland McCormickTaylor NAWQA NOAA PatapscoRiver Sediment StreamRehabilitation StreamRestoration SuspendedSediment Turbidity USGS Urbanization WaterQuality WaterResourceManagement

 

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