Tear down a dam and a river will change. But just how much? And what will it do to what lives in the river? To find out, OARDC scientists are looking no farther than their own backyard.
Mazeika Sullivan and Kristin Jaeger, both assistant professors in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, are studying the effects of dam removal at two former dams in Columbus: the Fifth Avenue dam on the Olentangy River, which flows through Ohio State’s campus, and the Main Street dam on the Scioto River some five miles south downtown.
“There’s a growing trend toward using dam removal to restore rivers, but studies documenting both short- and longer-term river responses to dam removal are limited,” Sullivan said. “This work links exciting basic science questions with outstanding opportunities for applications to river management and conservation.”
John Navarro of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources discusses dam removal and OARDC’s research on the subject. (Video: CFAES Communications.)
“This work links exciting basic science questions with outstanding opportunities for applications to river management and conservation.”—Mazeika Sullivan
Benefits to water quality, recreation, wildlife
- Sullivan said the study’s findings should improve future dam removals, especially in similar urbanized areas, by giving a clearer idea of what to expect and whether a project’s goals will be met.
- Government agencies are increasingly tearing down unneeded dams, aiming to improve water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreation safety and access in rivers.
- More than 60 dams have been removed from Ohio rivers and streams since the 1970s, according to the Ohio Department of natural Resources. About a third have come down in the past 10 years.
- To contact the scientists: Mazeika Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org; Kris Jaeger at email@example.com.