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54 Dams Slated for Removal in 2007


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Want to see a dam removal in action?

Follow the link below to see how it is accomplished with high explosives:

VIDEO LINK

 

 

Dam Removals in 12 States an Example to the Nation

 

Contact: Garrett Russo, Press Secretary, American Rivers, (202) 347-7550; Stephanie Lindloff, American Rivers, (518) 482-2631

 

Washington, D.C. — With dams across the country falling into disrepair, dam owners in 12 states have chosen to eliminate obsolete infrastructure by removing their dams. An annual survey of government agencies and private conservation organizations shows that 54 dams in 12 states have been removed or are slated for removal in 2007.

 

Since 1999, almost 300 dam removals have been recorded nationwide. These dams were removed for a variety of reasons. Many, but not all, were in a state of disrepair. This year, 13 dam removals were financed in part by American Rivers™ through two grant programs funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

 

Summary listing of projects available at:

http://www.americanrivers.org/damsremoved

 

“Often the best way to fix a dam is to remove it entirely,” said Rebecca Wodder, President of American Rivers™. “Just like your own circulatory system, a river without blockages is healthier and safer for the community it flows through.”

 

While some dams serve vital purposes, a great many have outlived their usefulness and often do more harm than good. Heavy rains can cause flooding upstream and, if the dam breaches or fails under pressure, catastrophic damage and loss of life can result downstream. Even with normal river levels, small dams can create a deadly recirculating current immediately downstream. It’s a condition that has caused experts to tag such dams with a macabre nickname: “drowning machines.”

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Mike

dam removal continues to be a hot topic here in Danville, IL. We have an old worthless (more or less) dam right here in town on the Vermilion River. A couple of deaths have ocurred in the last few years there and is in study to remove it by the U of I engineers and others. I'm not sure it has been decided yet but I can see the opposing views. It would supposedly only slightly lower the water level upstream but I have been told that generally the fishing improves?, not sure how? The one concern we have is that our Vermilion River feeds directly into the Wabash River which of course is connected to the Ohio River and that means that these invasive species (see the photo below) will definitely over time make their way upstream and that can't be good for our smallies.

 

gallery_485_21_15335.jpg

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Don't get me wrong here, I'm all for dam removals.

 

The only people that would be hurt fishing wise would be the guys that only go to the dams to fish and never go to the miles and miles of other river. They only go to where they can find a concentration of fish thus, showing themselves to be poor anglers at best.

 

If, in fact there are connections then I guess invasives would have to be considered. That has been brought up regarding the dam on the lowere Fox which prevents upstream movements from the IL.

 

In 1994, the zebra mussel that first appeared in the lower portion of the Allegheny River (tributary to the Ohio River) near Pittsburgh. Shipping and barge traffic spread zebra mussels from the Mississippi River upstream to the Ohio River and further upstream to the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh. Like the zebra mussel, other AIS can hitchhike on the equipment and the hulls of boats without being noticed. There is also concern that the Asian carp may also make their way upstream from the Mississippi to Pennsylvania via the Ohio River.

 

Tim, any input?

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When the Fox River breached the South Batavia Dam in late 2002, the impoundment narrowed upstream (left, June 2003). By September 2003 (right), vegetation had returned to the riverbanks. (Photos by Steven Scheffel)

beforeandafter.jpg

 

More Info:

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/WRCA/damremoval/news.html

 

Pay special attention to the links in the left column.

 

Rob- that dam you speak of is specifically one that is being inspected under the new Dam Safety program initiated in 2006.

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Mike, you're right about the Scenic River status of the Vermilion River, we fought hard for that way back there because there were so many that wanted to dam it up and make another large impoundment like Lake Shelbyville for obvious economic reasons. Now that it has that status, it will be almost impossible for them to ever do that to our river. But I'm not sure what the Scenic River status means to removing the dam that we have.

The invasives that I'm talking about are the Asian Carp, both the Silvers and the Bigheads that are already up to our dam here in town. Now they are not in significant numbers yet but they will be for sure. You can't put the Genie back in the bottle. The one in the photo I took was 44 lbs and and they can get twice that size. The problem is they're filter feeders and grow like a pound a month and can quickly displace all the native fish in no time at all.

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Mike, you're right about the Scenic River status of the Vermilion River, we fought hard for that way back there because there were so many that wanted to dam it up and make another large impoundment like Lake Shelbyville for obvious economic reasons. Now that it has that status, it will be almost impossible for them to ever do that to our river. But I'm not sure what the Scenic River status means to removing the dam that we have.

The invasives that I'm talking about are the Asian Carp, both the Silvers and the Bigheads that are already up to our dam here in town. Now they are not in significant numbers yet but they will be for sure. You can't put the Genie back in the bottle. The one in the photo I took was 44 lbs and and they can get twice that size. The problem is they're filter feeders and grow like a pound a month and can quickly displace all the native fish in no time at all.

 

 

They can also jump like 8-10 feet in the air, will any dam hold them?

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I suspect Asian Carp aren't going to stay long in the Middle Fork. It has some of the highest water quality in Illinois and they'll avoid it for the same reason that common carp aren't really a problem there...there's not much productivity there and there's there nothing there for them to eat. Low productivity systems aren't really habitats where they thrive. The main stem of the Vermilion may turn out to be a different story.

 

The assertion about dams in general stopping invasives is an interesting one that has been raised here before. I guess if you could show that the effects of a dam were less than the effects of exotics, you might have a reason to keep a dam in place. I haven't seen anyone make that arguement yet in the peer reviewed literature. Maybe it slipped by me.

 

In the case of Asian Carp...I can imagine a dam slowing them down in some cases although a low head dam won't hold them back forever.

 

 

 

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The assertion about dams in general stopping invasives is an interesting one that has been raised here before. I guess if you could show that the effects of a dam were less than the effects of exotics, you might have a reason to keep a dam in place.

 

 

Wow. That is a seriously depressing thought.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Pardon the pun.

 

 

 

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What would you think if someone were to remove native species by netting them, put them in storage tanks....and let the invasives through?

An old military tactic called "ambush".

The poison would be waiting on the other side.

When the coast is clear, the native species are returned via helicopter.

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Mike, Tim, and company:

 

I have been working hard to try to get funding for dam removals in Illinois, and believe that Danville is the most logical place to demonstrate that larger dams can be removed for the benefit of public safety, wildlife, and recreation.

 

What has been needed is a momentum-building opportunity to showcase the possibiltities here in Illinois... We need to find the more rural dams that do not have as many property owners upstream, and have little potential for large amounts or contaminated sediments. Danville may be the best opportunity to fit that scenario.

 

I cannot remember which biologist told me this, but I don't think the asian carp are coming that far upstream on the Vermilion to reach that dam.

 

Anyway, if you all have a spare moment this holiday season, contact your state legislator and let them know how important funding for dam removal is for rivers - safety and recreation. The study completed this summer identified approximately $50 to $70 million needed for removals and other modifications.

 

-MM

 

 

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"I cannot remember which biologist told me this, but I don't think the asian carp are coming that far upstream on the Vermilion to reach that dam."

 

Marc,

please understand, I'm neither pro nor con the dam removal in Danville, IL and although not an aquatic expert, I do have a degree in zoology and know Asian Silver carp when I see one and/or am hit by one and they're in the Wabash River farther north than the Vermilion and up our river presently. In the next several years they will be up here in numbers, there is absolutely nothing that will stop them unless the plankton count diminishes as you head upstream. If you understand what has happened in 15 short years, I don't think we can get our brains around what the situation will be like in another 15 or 20 years. Just my 2 cents (which is actually even worth less with the sinking $) :D

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As for the scenario I presented a few posts up, it was actually done on Fossil Creek in Arizona.

It goes to show how serious people are regarding this issue.

 

On June 18, 2005, after nearly a century of water diversion from Fossil Creek, Arizona Public Service shut off the flume that fed its power plants, allowing full flows to return to the creek. "Everyone was there, just waiting for the water to move downstream," remembers Marks. "There are a lot of places in a riverbed for water to go, so it came down slowly, filling all the nooks and crannies, all the pools and side channels." By the end of the day, the creek was filled, transformed from a trickle of 1 to 2 cubic feet per second to a robust flow of as much as 50 cubic feet per second.

 

Just weeks after the return of full flows, the travertine formations in Fossil Creek responded. "You can practically stand on the shore and watch the bedrock form," says Marks. Northern Arizona University geologist Rod Parnell, who has studied travertine at Fossil Creek both before and after the decommissioning, says the travertine is not only spreading over a wider area, but also forming at a faster rate than before the return of full flows. "When geologists see extremely rapid responses, they're usually looking at floods or volcanic eruptions - things that don't have a whole lot of benefits," says Parnell. "It's been great to see such a positive response in such a short period of time."

 

The native fish population also reacted dramatically: In reaches where flows had been restored and exotic fish removed, native fish increased by more than fifty-fold, rivaling the longstanding native fish population above the dam. (In a stretch where flows had been restored but exotic fish remained, the increase in native fish was comparatively meager.) Within six months, the invertebrate population bounced back from the effects of the poison used to eradicate the exotic fish, and the new travertine dams helped feed the invertebrates by trapping leaf litter. "In the short term, at least, this is a huge success," says Marks. "We couldn't ask for better results."

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In the next several years they will be up here in numbers, there is absolutely nothing that will stop them unless the plankton count diminishes as you head upstream.

 

Statistically, this is exactly what happens as you move into smaller drainages from larger ones like the Wabash and Vermilion. Big rivers generally have a lot of phytoplankton, small rivers have less. There is an inverse relationship between stream size and phytoplankton production in Illinois. Smaller streams have sunlight on the bottom and produce aquatic plants or periphyton (attached algae or macroalgae) instead of suspended plankton that the Asian carp need.

 

There are definitely Asian carp in smaller rivers like the Sangamon right now, but unless some one wants to come forward with some new data I haven't seen, they aren't abundant there. It's places like the Mississippi and Illinois that are taking the hardest hits from Asian carp so far.

 

Marc, the ISA has consistently supported dam removals where the data showed they would be beneficial. Is there a role we might play on the Vermilion?

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Mike, it sounds very expensive to me and unfortunately our state is so badly in the red when it comes to anything DNR related, I can't imagine it would ever be funded correctly. The other thing I don't understand is what would keep the invasives from coming back upstream? You're corect in that I'm not sure if the Asians would come to inhabit the Middle Fork and Salt Fork upstream but I can guarantee the lower Vermilion River would be prime habitat. It would be nice to have some good data to base the decision on, because once that low head dam is gone, it's never going to be rebuilt and you may have opened Pandora's Box.

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"There are definitely Asian carp in smaller rivers like the Sangamon right now, but unless some one wants to come forward with some new data I haven't seen, they aren't abundant there."

 

gallery_485_21_56055.jpg

 

Tim,

my friend and I took this Bighead carp almost 9 years ago on the Sangamon River just below the little dam in Decatur. We didn't even know what it was at the time but there were a bunch of these weird fish swimming around with eyes on the lower part of their head. Two years later they were all in the 12 lb class, another year later and now they were in the 15-18 lb range and they were thick. The next year bunches over 20 lbs and we took a couple barrels full. I haven't been back over there in three years now but I can tell you that they are not sparse and they aren't getting fewer in number and they aren't decreasing in size. But better yet, come join me in my canoe next summer on a warm quiet night and we'll go see for ourselves on the Sangamon below Decatur. Sounds like a great road trip. :D

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I simply used it as an example of the fervor that people exhibit in finding answers to some very perplexing issues with dam removal.

Each and every one that goes down provides a case study for the rest of the nation to benefit from.

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But better yet, come join me in my canoe next summer on a warm quiet night and we'll go see for ourselves on the Sangamon below Decatur. Sounds like a great road trip.

 

I'll bring the dynamite ("...are you going to talk or are you going to fish?").

 

Thanks for the info. Rob. Are they stacking up against that dam, Rob or are they abundant in the river miles downstream of it too?

 

I see the Sangamon as similar to the main stem of the Vermilion...relatively large, silty and productive. That's why I agree with you that they could establish there.

 

And since you took some home I have to ask:

 

1. Did you eat some?

 

2. How did they taste?

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Tim, I grew up as a boy in south Decatur and have lived in Danville for now 16 years and I agree completely with you that the Sangamon and Vermilion Rivers appear to be very similar in nature. As to have we eaten the Asian carp, yes, and they are actually quite good. First you must realize these are nothing like the common carp. The meat is white, mild and flavorful. They feed on the plankton and not the bottom crap. The only problem is their skeletal system contains more bones and makes filleting them more difficult. But with a 25 lb fish, even after you cut away all the external fatty tissue, and the reddish lateral line (mud vein), You still have a lot of excellent white meat. I really like them smoked using apple and alder wood as they have just enough oil (not anything like the salmonoids), to really produce a nice fillet that is not too dry. If we ever have an ISA get together, I'll bring some along, many like it better than smoked salmon as it has a milder flavor.

 

Your question about being stacked up by the dam, yes they were and also there is an old abandoned gravel pit that is attached to the Sangamon River just to the west where they also seem to stack up. I haven't been downstream a long way so I can't tell you about that but since they are coming up from the Illinois River, it only makes sense to me that they must be all along that corridor.

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Your question about being stacked up by the dam, yes they were and also there is an old abandoned gravel pit that is attached to the Sangamon River just to the west where they also seem to stack up. I haven't been downstream a long way so I can't tell you about that but since they are coming up from the Illinois River, it only makes sense to me that they must be all along that corridor.

 

Don't be surprised if you catch some flack for saying they have quality meat. I posted a link saying that 2 years ago and almost got hooted off the forum.

 

I wouldn't be surprised they are stacked against the dam but less dense downstream...hopefully tribs like the Sangamon don't have the same scenario as on the Illinois and Mississippi where they're so thick people are shooting them from the backs of moving boats.

 

There are currently studies underway at the U of I looking at the viability of these fish under differing productivity scenarios. The main objective is to find out if they can survive in Lake Michigan. Keep an eye out for those data. They may have applications in large rivers too.

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Tim, if you're interested, one of the top government biologists on the subject of Asian carp here in the states is a fellow named Duane Chapman, a very nice fellow presently residing in Iowa. If you google him, you will find a ton of research and information he has done on the subject. I know he traveled to China not that long ago to study the fish in their original habitat. When you think about the fact that these carp made their way up the Mississippi then into the Illinois River and then all the way to Decatur via the Sangamon, and now only a few years later they're coming in via the east by going from the Mississippi, to the Ohio, up the Wabash, and then west into the Vermilion River, Mr. Chapman's data is staggering.

 

I'm sorry to have taken the original topic slightly off course, but one neat thing if they did take out the Danville dam, is I could easily canoe from Potomac, IL all the way to New Orleans and never have to portage. :)

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Not off topic at all. The more we know about this the better off we are. Hopefully more people will specific knowledge will chime in.

 

The dam/dispersal issue is addressed here a bit. I'd be interested to see Chapman's data as well. That's a 92 MB Pdf so don't click it unless you mean it.

 

http://www.icais.org/pdf/2006ppt/Martin_OCONNELL.pdf

 

Notice they don't show them on the Sangamon until 2003, and they still don't show them on the Vermilion. Data holes like that are so incredibly common.

 

And it is an interesting paradox isn't it...

 

Tens (hundreds?) of millions are being spent to keep the Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes, but tens of millions are being spent as well to remove dispersal barriers in other systems. Granted, any major flood will render a low head dam useless as a dispersal barrier, but the time to failure for both barriers is probably similar within tens of years.

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