USGS - science for a changing world

USGS Multimedia Gallery

Maps, Imagery, and Publications Hazards Newsroom Education Jobs Partnerships Library About USGS Social Media

:
Multimedia Gallery Home | Videos

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:

Suggest an update to the information/tags?

Streamflow (Set) RSS Media RSS Water Temp Modeling Animation: Middle Fork Willamette USGS Data Grapher Tutorial - Introduction
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

 

Browse More: Video Collections | Video Sets

* DOI and USGS link and privacy policies apply.

 

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://www.usgs.gov/videos/default.asp?v=494
Page Contact Information: Image Gallery Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Friday, November 21, 2014