Restoring The Patapsco River One Dam At A Time

Patapsco River, MD | © Serena McClain

Patapsco River, MD | © American Rivers

Despite the lack of updates on the Patapsco River Restoration project, things have indeed been moving forward. Perhaps you heard about our successful grant application to NOAA for funds for the Bloede Dam removal? Needless to say, we are thrilled!

American Rivers worked with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, NOAA, and our consultant throughout the summer of 2012 to conduct an alternatives analysis examining removal of the Bloede Dam, the first barrier on the Patapsco.

After a two-day open house, a 60-day comment period and more than 70 comments, the project partners determined removal of the Bloede Dam was the best option to achieve the overarching goals for the Patapsco River of restoration of fish and aquatic organism passage, improvement of public safety and consideration of historic, cultural and recreational values.

Since then, we have been hard at work collecting additional sediment probes, modeling what river conditions will be like following dam removal (as opposed to current conditions), developing 60% engineering drawings and quite a few other tasks necessary for designing this dam removal.

We also continue to monitor the physical and biological recovery of the river following the removal of the Simkins Dam—the dam that was immediately upstream of Bloede. In the two years since the removal that dam, we have traced the movement of the sand and gravel released from the Simkins impoundment as it has been transported throughout the downstream segments of the Patapsco.

These physical changes have been analyzed against the biological response of fish and other aquatic organisms. This includes examining the presence of target species, such as American eel and river herring, as they migrate upstream and their use (or lack thereof) of the current fish ladder on the Bloede Dam. As you can imagine, Bloede’s downstream presence impedes our ability to accomplish all of our restoration goals on the Patapsco.

I’ll be back each month with new details about the project and the recovery we are already seeing. Stay tuned!