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dam removal

After the dam comes down: groundwater-stream interactions and water quality effects of restored and unrestored reaches in northeastern Ohio

The Watershed Hydrology lab will be out in force for the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Vancouver in October. For the last few days, we’ve been sharing the abstracts of the work we are presenting there.

AFTER THE DAM COMES DOWN: GROUNDWATER-STREAM INTERACTIONS AND WATER QUALITY EFFECTS OF RESTORED AND UNRESTORED REACHES IN NORTHEASTERN OHIO

BROWN, Krista Marie, Geology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44240, kbooth@kent.edu and JEFFERSON, Anne J., Department of Geology, Kent State University, 221 McGilvrey Hall, Kent, OH 44240

Over that past decade, dam removals have become increasingly popular, as many dams near the end of their life expectancy. With an anticipated increase of dam removals in coming years, this study aims to develop an understanding of groundwater-stream interactions and water quality in former reservoirs after dam removal. Low head dams were removed in 2009 on Plum Creek and Kelsey Creek, tributaries to the Cuyahoga River. Kelsey Creek reservoir remains unaltered and consists of a stream channel flowing through riparian-wetland environments, while Plum Creek reservoir underwent channel restoration in 2011. At Kelsey Creek, 20 piezometers and 3 wells were installed within the former reservoir. Since October 2013, hydraulic heads have been recorded semi-weekly for aquifer modeling and water samples have been taken in the wells and stream. Water quality is being evaluated with field-measured parameters and ion chromatography. Plum Creek is being used to understand the water quality effects of channel restoration.
At Kelsey Creek, interaction between the stream and shallow groundwater is evident. The stream tends to contribute shallow groundwater flow toward the western side of the site and north, parallel to the stream. The well closest to the stream shows variability in specific conductance, indicating bidirectional groundwater-stream exchange and all wells show rapid response to precipitation events. Hydraulic conductivity calculated using the Hvorslev method ranged 2.84×10-2to 7.38×10-6 m/s and poorly correlate with the bulk sediments in Kelsey Creek.
Despite the wetland and groundwater-stream exchange in the unrestored Kelsey Creek, there is little change in stream water quality within the former reservoir site, similar to the restored Plum Creek site. This suggests that there is little water quality benefit to be gained from stream restoration at dam removal sites. Left unaltered, Kelsey Creek provides flood control and groundwater recharge in wetland areas.

Damnation film screening in Cleveland on Wednesday

If you haven’t seen it yet, and you are at all interested in dams and dam removal (or are even wondering why people would be interested in dam removal), I encourage you to watch the film Damnation. The film highlights some of the environmental issues associated with dams, showcases the growing movement to get them removed, and shows us the results when dams do come out. Plus, it features gorgeous scenery of Pacific Northwest Rivers. So check out the screening in Cleveland this week (info below) or ask Anne how to get access to her copy of the film.

Here’s the trailer:

The award-winning documentary, Damnation, is coming to Cleveland’s Capitol Theater on Wednesday, September 24th at 7 p.m. The movie tells the story of the use of dams around the United States and the impact that dams have on rivers. It was produced by Yvon Chouinard who, among many other conservation accolades, is the founder of Patagonia.

Kdudley Media is hosting the presentation of the movie at the Capitol and they have graciously invited Friends of the Crooked River to be their special guest. FOCR will have an informational display in the lobby before the showing and have a Q&A session after the movie focusing on local dam removal efforts. In addition, Kdudley has decided to donate any funds raised from the showing of the movie to FOCR in support of our conservation efforts. Here is a link to more information about the film: www.damnationfilm.com

Tickets will be available at the door, as well as on line.

The Capitol Theater is located at W. 65th and Detroit in Cleveland’s District, Gordon Square District. This area is also home to several good restaurants ranging from casual to upscale so you may want to come early and make a night of it.

Hope to see you on September 24th

Social Hour at 6 PM

Film at 7 PM

Q&A concerning dams on the Cuyahoga following show

After the dam comes out: groundwater-stream interactions and water quality impacts of former reservoir sites

Next week, the Watershed Hydrology Lab will be well represented at the CUAHSI 2014 Biennial Colloquium. We’ll be presenting four posters, so here come the abstracts…


After the dam comes out: groundwater-stream interactions and water quality impacts of former reservoir sites

Krista Brown and Anne Jefferson

Over that past decade, dam removals have become increasingly popular, as many dams near the end of their life expectancy. With an increasing number of anticipated dam removals coming in the near future this study aims to develop an understanding of groundwater-stream interactions and water quality in former reservoir sites after dam removals have occurred. Low head dams (~2 m) were removed in 2009 from Plum Creek in Kent, Portage County, Ohio and on Kelsey Creek in Cuyahoga Falls, Summit County, Ohio. Kelsey Creek reservoir has been unaltered since the dam removal and consists of a stream channel flowing through riparian- wetland environments, while Plum Creek reservoir underwent channel restoration in 2011. At Kelsey Creek, 20 piezometers and 3 wells were installed in the stream and riparian areas. Pressure transducers were also deployed in each well and stream from November 20, 2013 to January 5, 2014. Hydraulic conductivity was calculated using the Hvorslev method. Since October 2013, hydraulic heads have been recorded semi-weekly and water samples have been taken in the wells and stream. Water quality is being evaluated with field-measured pH, temperature, specific conductance, and dissolved oxygen, and ion chromatography of chloride, bromide, nitrate, sulfate and phosphate concentrations. Plum Creek is being used to understand the water quality effects of channel restoration at former reservoir sites.
At Kelsey Creek, hydraulic conductivity ranges five magnitudes, from 10?2 to 10?6 m/s, but wells near the channel, in an off-channel wetland, and on an adjacent hillslope respond similarly during high flow events. However, the well closest to the stream shows substantial variability in specific conductance, indicating bidirectional groundwater-stream exchange. Despite the wetlands and presumed greater groundwater-stream exchange in the unrestored Kelsey Creek, stream water quality is similar to the restored Plum Creek site. This suggests that the water quality measures considered here should not determine whether to restore channels within former reservoir sites. Findings from this research may be applicable when considering options for future dam removal sites.

The Cuyahoga Falls dam removal video you’ve been waiting for

Cross-posted at Highly Allochthonous

This summer we were treated to not one but two dam removals on the Cuyahoga River, ~10 miles downstream from Kent. Those following me on twitter know that I obsessed about these removals all summer long, first as they were delayed by weeks of high water, then as they got started and I got to watch first on the live “dam cam” and then in person. But the video compresses a whole summer of waiting, watching, and obsessing into two and a half glorious minutes, complete with music. This is, without a doubt, what youtube was invented for.*

If that dam removal video merely served to whet your appetite for dam busting, I have a few other videos you might enjoy. First, there’s there’s an excellent 8 minute documentary on Marmot Dam on the Sandy River, Oregon, which explains the science that led up to this removal, features the excitable Gordon Grant, and shows the action unfolding. If you just want to cut to the action, you can’t beat the “blow and go” (that would be the technical term) of the Condit Dam removal in Washington. Finally, a feature length movie called DamNation is coming our way in 2014. I’m so excited, I can hardly stand it. I’m going to go watch the videos a few more times.

*Youtube was also invented for flash flood videos, videos of people running rapids on the Grand Canyon, the Lake Peigneur disaster video, and corny videos produced by sewer districts about CSOs.

Elementary students narrate the history of the Kent Dam

In various places around Kent, visitors with a smart phone can scan a QR code and watch a short video about the historical significance of that location. This super-cool project was actually done by students at one of the local elementary schools, with funding from the NEH and the help of Kent State University’s Research Center for Educational Technology and the Kent Historical Society.

Below, let them tell you about one of our town’s fluvial icons.

After the dam came out: The Cuyahoga River in Kent

Cross-posted at Highly Allochthonous

We’ve been having one of those perfect spring weeks, where the weather is warm and sunny, the flowers are blooming, and there is nothing more enticing at the end of a workday than to take a nice long wander down by the local river. Fortunately, I can do that right from my front door – exploring the Cuyahoga River, as it flows through Kent. I’ve blogged a couple of times already about the Cuyahoga, but today I want to share some views that I couldn’t have shared 10 years ago, because they would have been underwater.

Sepia-toned photo of dam and train station

Kent Dam with canal lock and towpath behind it, in this undated photo from Kentohio.net.

For 168 years, a dam stood across the Cuyahoga River, under the main street bridge, and impounded water for a couple of miles upstream. In 2004, the dam was modified to let the river be free-flowing through town. The arched stone dam face was preserved but the remnants of a Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal lock structure were removed, creating a narrow chute in the river where once there was a full blockage. After the reservoir drained, some of the sediments were regraded to form a well-signed little heritage park behind the dam.

dam, arched bridge, small town bucolic scene

Looking upstream at the dam in August 2012. In the summer, water is recirculated to a trough at the top of the dam in order to give the illusion of a waterfall. On beautiful spring evenings, like this week, the park behind the dam is filled with people enjoying the weather…or studying.

tunnel, river, rocks, sun

Looking downstream through an arch of the Main Street bridge at the remaining section of the dam on the right and the former lock, now river on the left. Photo April 30, 2013.

Above the dam site, the river is confined to a fairly narrow bedrock gorge with class 2 rapids. In a few places you can easily get down to it and see some nicely potholed rock in the riverbed. Kayakers call this a pin spot.

rock outcrop next to a river

Looking upstream from the pin spot on the Cuyahoga in Kent. Co-blogger and the High Albedo geo-dog for scale.

While we were wandering down there a few evenings ago, we met an angler who caught and released two small trout from the river in the space of about five minutes. There was no fish passage around the Kent Dam before it was removed, so I’m taking the trout as a good sign of some ecological recovery in this section of the river. Another good ecological sign has been spotted a few miles downstream. Rebuilding of another bridge over the river in Kent has been delayed so that endangered native mussel beds can be relocated.

river bedrock revetment mills

Looking downstream from the pin spot between Main St and Crain Ave. Look closely for the angler near the river.

I know that the dam removal decision in 2004 was controversial in the community – generations had grown up with the dam as a local landmark and it was on the National Register of Historic Places – but when I walk along this section of the river, I am impressed not only by the wonderful ecology and geomorphology of this little river that runs through our downtown, but I’m also impressed by the community’s embrace of the free-flowing Cuyahoga. On this day, so important to Kent’s history, it gives me hope that we can overcome the wrongs and divisions of the past and work together to make a better future for both our communities and the world around us.

Condit Dam Removal video

No excited Gordon like at Marmot Dam, but this is one exciting “blow and go” dam removal video. This was Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Washington in October 2011. Spectacular to watch, and even neater knowing that there was important (and hair-raising) science being done both upstream and downstream of the dam throughout the dam removal process.