Communities Improving Public Safety through River Restoration

May 5th, 2010

<p>Serena McClain, 202-347-7550<br />Amy Kober, 206-898-3864</p>

Washington, DC – American Rivers today released the new film, “Restoring America’s Rivers: Preparing for the Future,” which tells the inspiring story of how community leaders around the country are improving public safety and solving problems like flooding by restoring rivers and working with nature, not against it.

The film examines four communities in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington where dams are being removed and levees set back in an effort to restore floodplains and give rivers room to spread out, while making communities safer and more resilient to weather extremes, and restoring vital habitat for fish and wildlife.

“These communities realized that the best, most cost-effective way to reduce flood damage and improve public safety was to remove outdated dams and restore the rivers,” said Serena McClain, associate director of river restoration for American Rivers. “Our goal is for every mayor in the country to see this film. We hope the stories will spur them to explore river restoration in their own communities.”

American Rivers is a national leader in removing outdated and unsafe dams. More than 800 dam removals have been recorded nationwide, with multiple benefits to communities including improved public safety, reduced flooding, better recreation, and revitalized fish and wildlife habitat. American Rivers helps communities remove unneeded dams by providing educational, technical, and financial assistance. 

Explore dam removal projects on an interactive map at

“Restoring America’s Rivers: Preparing for the Future” features four river restoration projects in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington:

Maxwell Pond Dam, Black Brook, New Hampshire

The City of Manchester, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, and others partnered to remove Maxwell Pond Dam from Black Brook, a tributary of the Merrimack River, in winter 2009. The dam removal improved overall water quality, allowing Black Brook to be removed from the state’s “impaired waters” list, and helped protect city infrastructure from flood damage. The project also restored eight miles of free-flowing river for alewife, blueback herring, Atlantic salmon, and other migratory fish. The city is planning a major park revitalization effort to complement the new free-flowing stream.

Harmony Junction Dam, Connoquenessing Creek, Pennsylvania

This 8.5-foot tall by 153-foot long concrete dam was originally built in 1915 for industrial purposes. The dam was purchased by the Wild Waterways Conservancy for the purposes of removing it in order to reconnect the floodplain for better flood protection, as well as to improve water quality and safety for canoeing and kayaking. The dam removal also restored 15 miles of habitat for fish and wildlife.

Wolf Creek Dam, Wolf Creek, Pennsylvania

This 12-foot high cement dam blocked Wolf Creek in the center of downtown Grove City and abutted the property of Grove City College. It was removed to alleviate liability, flooding, and to improve fish habitat. Follow-up plans include turning the former impoundment into a recreation area for the college.

Green, Cedar and Tolt rivers, King County, Washington

In an effort to reduce flood risk and improve habitat for endangered salmon, King County has undertaken a number of levee setbacks and levee removals in the Green, Cedar and Tolt River watersheds. By moving people out of harm’s way and giving the river more room to meander, the county is improving flood protection s well as the health of the river and its salmon runs.


The film was produced by American Rivers and Green Fire Productions with funding from the Colcom Foundation, the Sarah K. DeCoizart Article TENTH Perpetual Charitable Trust, and the Richard King Mellon Foundation.


About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

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