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

Wayside Furniture

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

Faculty, students not behind proposed University of Akron name change
I am a proud alumnae of The University of Akron (Jan'87). I have fond and great memories of my undergraduate years at Akron being actively engaged, participatin...

Kasich's budget director takes House spending plan to task
If Kasich is so obsessed with a balanced budget, he is going to have to ask the wealthy to chip in; the middle class has already been tapped out. !!!

Petition to put marijuana legalization on Ohio ballots makes progress
I sign on 420 came home made a few calls to send others to. Sign hey hey let move it forward. Get out there a sign people

Ohio's tax commissioner says the ID quiz is going well
I filed electronically and there was no provision to print out a copy that I could find. How do I get a copy sent to my exclusive address of record, including ...

Ohio to appeal ruling keeping Akron's red light cameras in place
I don't understand what all the fuss is about. If you don't like tickets drive the speed limit and stop at red lights. It's really all up to you.

Who's on public assistance in Ohio?
legalize marijuana get over it,,, its here its been the main drug test scare of a lifetime. u got people that get drunk every night and work u got peoples on ...

Letters from a lost friend: A Beachwood survivor's Holocaust remembrance
What a great story -- and how important it was for both Marlene and her mother to tell it! Thank you.

Ohio lawmaker calls for an East Cleveland bailout
Instead of blaming Kasich and the Republicans for all of East Cleveland's fiscal woes, take a look at the facts. Some political entities in Ohio are too small ...

Legalized marijuana is a boon for a Cleveland-area grow light maker
Shouldn't he be in jail for paraphernalia? He knows he is selling for marijuana production.

Akron city council to vote on resolution for hiring ex-offenders
Great as a taxpayer I paid for the police to catch them, the free lawyer, the jail to house them , the food their kids eat the medical for them and all its goin...

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