News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Knight Foundation

The Holden Arboretum

Hospice of the Western Reserve


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment


De-constructing dams in Ohio means figuring out what to do with sediment left behind
Eco-engineering looks for new ways to deal with old problems
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
Dr. Mazeika Sullivan and Dr. Kristin Jaeger of Ohio State University.
Courtesy of TIM RUDELL
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Researchers in Ohio are expanding scientific understanding of how to handle a key infrastructure issue here and all over the country: the physical and environmental impacts of removing old dams from rivers and streams.  WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports.

LISTEN: Removing aging dams and the environment they've created

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:21)


Dams seem so permanent, such an unchanging part of the landscape. They are neither, especially when, as with many of the 4,000 in Ohio, they have some age on them.    

“Soil is not impermeable; neither is concrete, Water does leak through either one of those over a period of time," says Mark Ogden ODNRRodney Tornes, dam safety expert with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, His agency oversees most publicly and privately owned dams.

"As long as it’s under control, that’s fine.  But, you know, we want to make sure that those owners know, 'Hey, you’ve a problem here.' If it gets worse,  we may have to say, "Hey, you need to have an engineer look at this; a repair may have to be made. And yes, we do have the authority for the removal of dams as well.”

Geomorphology looks at aging dams
When a dam is torn down, the water is let go gradually to avoid flooding. But what happens to the ecosystems up and down stream? 

Two Ohio State University professors are among a new breed of researchers looking into that. Just north of Columbus, geomorphology specialist Kristin Jeager and ecosystems expert Mazeika Sullivan walk along the Olentangy River where they’re studying aging dams.

Specifically, the broad, and long-term effects of dam removal, Jeager says. “Relatively speaking, it’s a pretty new science.”

Years of build-up behind the old dams
The dam we’re examining here looks pretty old, and Jeager talks about whether the years of silt and debris behind it would, like the water, have to be released in a measured way if it were removed.  “We were just sampling there yesterday, and it's all mucky, fine sediments that would normally just transport downstream, but there’s a whole load of sediment that’s being trapped.”

Sullivan says that is a real focal point of the new research. “What we’re interested in from an ecosystem perspective is how these contaminants are redistributed once the dam is removed.  And how, for example, do they work their way through food webs.” 

New endeavor
For Jeager and Sullivan, that is an especially critical issue at this time in their new branch of scientific inquiry — which some media are starting to call ecological engineering.

 “It builds into our understanding of streams and rivers in a broader sense. We know they are connected, physically, biologically, chemically, from the headwaters all the way to the ocean”

Pointing the way
Sullivan says that knowledge should encourage what is already a growing trend toward removing dams that are no longer needed for water supplies, flood control and the like. The goal is for the nation’s rivers and streams to return as much as possible to a natural state.

“You know, rivers are ultimately the great landscape integrator. They’re integrating all the activities across the watershed. And so to restore rivers in this very broad sense is to take dams out. The way to do that then is how our science can help in the conservation and the management." 

About 150 dams around Ohio are currently being evaluated for removal, either because they have structural problems or to improve ecological conditions in streams and watersheds. 


Related Links & Resources
ODNR Dam Safety Engineering Program

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Cuyahoga Valley National Park OK's sharpshooters to thin deer herds
In this article you mention that the Mule Deer Foundation is a "hunting group" in reality the Mule Deer Foundation is a conservation group that is over 25 years...

In the driver's seat of history
I believe he was a teacher of mine as James Ford Rhodes. My favorite teacher of all time! Loved learning this part of his amazing history.

Cleveland RTA is moving Public Square bus stops beginning this week
I am very confused. Why are you taking one or more of the park and ride 246 out of service in the morning. I looking over the new schedule I see that there ar...

Canton school board will vote Wednesday on its high school merger
Great to see that THE REPOSITORY is advising a 'no' vote for now! Another point, besides all the Very accurate points already made against this move is the fac...

Some parents opting their students out of Common Core test
I am an 8th grader at a school in Allen County. I have just recently taken the ELA performance based assessment and found it extremely difficult. It asked me a ...

Fallout from the Ohio Supreme Court Munroe Falls ruling
The comment by Nathan Johnson from OEC is confusing. Instead of cities being 'emboldened' to craft zoning laws that were just stricken down by this ruling, comm...

Stopping sediment dumping in Lake Erie
Ah, yes, the Army Coro of Engineers, the geniuses that designed the levee system in New Orleans that has made the flooding worse due to no sediment reaching the...

Ohio charter school critic says reform bills are a good step
The cold truth is that these charter schools are offering services beyond the what the state tests can guage. Parents and students have a choice and they are ch...

State law trumps restrictions on oil and gas drilling in Munroe Falls
Justice O'Neill's quote brings up a point I wish WKSU would address: since, unlike for Federal judges, our judges here in Ohio are elected, and therefore respo...

Ohio Supreme Court invalidates local fracking bans
If Ohio has their way, Fracking Wells will be planted in the courtyard of every town. That is if the State of Ohio can profit by it...for more on how the court ...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University