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According to American Rivers, “more than 90,000 dams in the country are no longer serving the purpose that they were built to provide decades or centuries ago.” As these dams age and decay, they can become public safety hazards, presenting a failure risk and flooding danger. Dams can also be environmental hazards, blocking the movement of fish and other aquatic species, inundating river habitat, impairing water quality, and altering the flow necessary to sustain river life.

Removing nonfunctional, outdated dams has myriad ecological benefits. Dam removal can improve water quality, restore a river back to its natural flowing state, reconnect river habitats that benefit fish and wildlife, and significantly increase biodiversity for the surrounding watershed.

Removing Dams in Lehigh Valley

For over a decade, Princeton Hydro has partnered with Wildlands Conservancy to remove dams in the Lehigh River Valley. Wildlands Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust in eastern Pennsylvania, works to restore degraded stream and wildlife habitat with a primary focus on Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh River watershed, which is a 1,345 square mile drainage area that eventually flows into the Delaware River.

Wildlands Conservancy contracted Princeton Hydro to design and permit the removal of two dams on the Little Lehigh Creek. Although it is referred to as the “Little Lehigh,” the 24-mile creek is the largest tributary of the Lehigh River. The dam removals restored the natural stream system, which hadn’t flowed freely in over a century.

Princeton Hydro also worked with Wildlands Conservancy to remove several barriers and three consecutive low-head dams on Jordan Creek, a tributary of the Little Lehigh Creek. Jordan Creek arises from a natural spring on Blue Mountain, and eventually joins the Little Lehigh in Allentown before flowing into the Lehigh River. It drains an area of 75.8 square miles.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" ids="12050,12053"] As part of the dam and barrier removal projects, Princeton Hydro: - Conducted dam and site investigations; - Oversaw structural, topographic, and bathymetric field surveys and base mapping; - Performed geomorphic assessments and sediment characterization to predict river response to dam removals and develop appropriate sediment management plans; - Performed hydrologic and hydraulic analysis to predict changes in river hydraulics; - Evaluated and addressed technical issues unique to each barrier; - Coordinated with regulatory agencies and entities; - Participated in community informational meetings; - Developed engineering design plans, documents, and permit application submissions; - Developed construction cost estimates for implementing the removal of the dams and streambank stabilization; and - Performed construction oversight during implementation.

Collectively, these dam and barrier removal projects on the Little Lehigh and Jordan Creek reconnected 15+ miles of river; restored fish passage; improved aquatic connectivity, fisheries, and benthic macroinvertebrate and wildlife habitats; reduced nonpoint source stormwater pollution; improved water quality; addressed vulnerable infrastructure; enhanced climate resiliency; and stabilized and restored the creeks’ channels and banks.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" ids="12043,12054"]

Upcoming Conservation Efforts

Building upon the successes of the Little Lehigh and Jordan Creek barrier removals, Princeton Hydro is again partnering with Wildlands Conservancy to remove three consecutive dams on Bushkill Creek in Easton, PA. The dam removal projects, which are slated for 2023, are part of a large-scale effort, involving a significant number of community and municipal partners, focused on restoring Bushkill Creek and the surrounding watershed.

The Bushkill Creek is a 22-mile long limestone stream that is designated as a “high quality, cold-water fishery.” It supports healthy populations of trout, and is treasured by anglers and the surrounding community as an important resource in an urban environment, spanning several boroughs and townships, eventually flowing into the Delaware River at Easton.

Environmental protection and restoration is a key goal of removing the dams. Removing these barriers will allow important migratory fish species to reach their spawning grounds once again, which has numerous and far-reaching ecological benefits. The project work also includes stabilizing the streambank, planting, and expanding riparian buffers, planting native trees and shrubs to filter runoff, and installing in-stream structures to restore fish habitat.

Stay tuned for more updates in 2023!

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen the reconstruction, repair, and removal of over 60 of small and large dams in the Northeast. To learn more about our fish passage and dam removal engineering services, click here. To learn more about Wildlands Conservancy, click here.

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This month, we’re celebrating the sixth anniversary of the Hughesville Dam Removal. The removal of the 18-foot-high, 150-foot-long dam not only marked a major milestone in restoring the Musconetcong River, it also led to the speedy return of the American shad (Alosa sapidissima), a species that had been absent from the area for 200+ years.

 

Project Background

The Hughesville Dam was constructed by John L. Riegel and the Warren Manufacturing Company in the late-1800s to provide water to power the former paper mill located in Hughesville. The dam, a 12-foot-high timber crib and rock fill dam, spanned the Musconetcong River from Holland Township, Hunterdon County to Pohatcong Township, Warren County. The structure was not in compliance with NJDEP Dam Safety Standards and was creating a blockage to catadromous and local fish passage.

Musconetcong Watershed Association hired Princeton Hydro to investigate, design, permit, and oversee the decommissioning of the Hughesville Dam, and conduct related river restoration work within the Musconetcong River. The Hughesville Dam was the fifth dam on the Musconetcong River designed for removal by Princeton Hydro.

As part of the dam removal project, Princeton Hydro completed a feasibility study in 2012 and initiated designs in 2014 to decommission the spillway and restore the impoundment. To assess potential sediment impacts, vibracoring was conducted and sediment analysis and quantification of the volume of impounded material was completed. Princeton Hydro worked with the NJDEP to assess the quality of sediment and determine its ultimate disposal.

[gallery columns="2" link="file" ids="1046,11896"]

As part of the design, the 21,000 cubic yards was proposed to be hydraulically dredged to adjacent existing on-site lagoons at this now defunct paper mill plant. The pre-existing and proposed hydraulics were assessed to understand impacts to an upstream bridge and downstream flood water surfaces following removal. Geomorphic assessments and utilization of nature-based restoration techniques were utilized to design a new river channel within the former impoundment.

Following the completion of design, applications were prepared for submission to NJDEP’s Land Use Regulation Program and Dam Safety Section, as well as the Hunterdon County Soil Conservation District (Warren County ceded jurisdiction to Hunterdon County). Princeton Hydro also applied for right-of-way permits to reinforce the foundation of an upstream county bridge as well as construct project access from a county road. Following the receipt of permits, Princeton Hydro assisted in the procurement of a contractor and provided construction administration services.

 

Bringing Down the Dam

On Thursday, Sept 8 2016, the project team made the first notches in the Dam. Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior during that time, toured the project site and held a press conference to commemorate the initial dam breach and celebrate the exciting news. Jewell called the project a “model for collaborative conservation.”

[caption id="attachment_5512" align="aligncenter" width="536"]Dam removal project partners and community members pose with Sally Jewell at the Hughesville Dam removal event on Sept. 8, 2016. Photo Credit: USFWS. Dam removal project partners and community members pose with Sally Jewell at the Hughesville Dam removal event on Sept. 8, 2016. Photo Credit: USFWS.[/caption]  

In addition to the Honorable Sally Jewell, NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Colonel Michael Bliss, also participated in the press conference to discuss the importance of the Hughesville Dam removal and dam removal in general.

The entire dam removal took nearly three months, but you can watch the sped-up version here:

The project was supported by many partners and funded largely by the USFWS through the Department of the Interior (DOI) under the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013.

 

Conservation Success

The removal of the obsolete Hughesville Dam marked another major milestone of restoring the Musconetcong River. The removal is part of a larger partner-based effort led by the Musconetcong Watershed Association to restore the 42-mile Musconetcong - a designated “Wild and Scenic River” – to a free-flowing state.

[caption id="attachment_11894" align="aligncenter" width="672"] Photos by Musconetcong Watershed Association[/caption]  

Removing the dam opened nearly six miles of the Musconetcong to migratory fish, such as American shad, that spend much of their lives in the ocean but return to rivers and their tributaries to spawn. The removal was completed in November 2016 and in the Spring of 2017, schools of American shad were observed above the dam, after 200+ years of absence. Shad are a benchmark species indicative of the overall ecological health and diversity of the waterway.

Other benefits of the dam removal include eliminating a public hazard due to the deteriorating nature of the dam; restoring the natural of floodplain functions and values of the area; restoring native stream substrate and habitat; and increasing river fishing and recreation opportunities.

To read more about the Musconetcong Watershed Association, click here. To read about another dam removal project along the Musconetcong River, click here. [post_title] => Celebrating the 6th Anniversary of Hughesville Dam Removal [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => celebrating-the-6th-anniversary-of-hughesville-dam-removal [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-11-30 23:45:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-11-30 23:45:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://princetonhydro.com/?p=11893 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 11651 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2022-10-03 06:45:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-10-03 06:45:04 [post_content] => [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekVqRMI5ncc[/embed]

For episode three of Stroud Water Research Center's 2022 Science Seminar Series, Michael Hartshorne, Director of Aquatics at Princeton Hydro (and former Stroud Center intern), gave a presentation about the ecological status of the Schuylkill River and shared the story of a yearlong community science project that included a volunteer survey and scientific water quality assessment. Stroud Center's Science Seminar lecture series, which provides an opportunity for the public to learn more about the issues that matter to them, has been running for over a decade. It also gives the public access to some of the world’s leading freshwater scientists and educators and the chance to learn how watershed science and education are tackling water-related challenges.

As described in Michael's presentation, the project, which included four phases, was implemented through a partnership between the Schuylkill River Greenways, Berks Nature, Bartram’s Garden, The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Stroud Center, and Princeton Hydro.

First, to understand local perceptions of the river, investigators conducted a community survey of more than 300 residents from Berks, Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Despite a majority of respondents reporting that they care about the river, many also reported concerns about trash and litter and whether the river is clean and safe enough for activities like swimming and fishing. This insight was used to drive the priorities for the in-depth water quality monitoring assessment and inspired the launch of a new Community Science trash monitoring program.

In June, the group launched an interactive ArcGIS StoryMap webpage that reveals the local perceptions of the Schuylkill River and aims to connect residents and communities with the Schuylkill River and encourage engagement with this special resource.

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In October 2021, the largest stream restoration in Maryland was completed. Over 7 miles (41,000 linear feet) of Tinkers Creek and its tributaries were stabilized and restored.

The project was designed by Princeton Hydro for GV-Petro, a partnership between GreenVest and Petro Design Build Group. Working with Prince George’s County Department of the Environment and coordinating with the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, this full-delivery project was designed to meet the County’s Watershed Implementation Plan total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Discharge Permit conditions.

Today, we are thrilled to report that the once highly urbanized watershed is flourishing and teeming with life:

[gallery columns="2" size="medium" link="none" ids="10632,10631"]

We used nature-based design and bioengineering techniques like riparian zone planting and live staking to prevent erosion and restore wildlife habitat.

[gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="10635,10634"]

10,985 native trees and shrubs were planted in the riparian area, and 10,910 trees were planted as live stakes along the streambank.

[gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="10637,10636"]

For more information about the project visit GreenVest's website and check out our blog:

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Welcome to the latest edition of our Client Spotlight series, which provides an inside look at our collaboration, teamwork, and accomplishments with a specific client.

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on the Seatuck Environmental Association. Seatuck Environmental Association is a 501c3 nonprofit based in Islip, New York. They work on wildlife conservation and nature education across Long Island. The organization advocates for wildlife and advancing conservation projects, engages community scientists in wildlife research, and offers environmental education opportunities for Long Islanders of all ages.

For this Client Spotlight, we spoke with Seatuck’s Conservation Policy Advocate Emily Hall via zoom:

Q. What is your primary role within Seatuck?

[embed]https://youtu.be/SoAgRaypc4Q[/embed]

Q. What does Seatuck value?

Particularly in our conservation work, we really try to stay niche. We specifically focus on restoring and protecting Long Island’s wildlife and environment. We advocate for wildlife, advance restoration projects, conduct surveys, educate public officials, host workshops, lead coalitions and pursue a host of other approaches to promote wildlife conservation and habitat restoration.

Q. What makes the Seatuck Environmental Association unique?

Seatuck is really unique because we're one of the only environmental organizations that works island-wide and isn’t part of a national organization. This really gives us the opportunity to stay focused on Long Island’s wildlife and environment, and dive into a lot of different wildlife protection efforts as well as habitat restoration projects. We also offer nature-based education programs all the way from pre-k to professional teacher training.

Q. How long has Seatuck been working with Princeton Hydro?

We’ve been working with Princeton Hydro since 2018. Seatuck was awarded the NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources Grant for Tributary Restoration and Resiliency to design a fish passage at the dam intersecting Mill Pond and Bellmore Creek. We contracted Princeton Hydro to design the fish passage options. Read more about the project here:

Q. What are some key takeaways/highlights from the Bellmore Creek Fish Passage project?

[embed]https://youtu.be/E1oYOy9Y688[/embed]

Q. In what ways did you get the community involved in the Bellmore Creek Fish Passage Project?

As an organization, it’s very important for us to collaborate with the community on projects and initiatives, and to understand the perspectives of all the different stakeholders involved. For the Bellmore Creek Fish Passage Project, we brought together environmental organizations, community members and the dam owners. We began by holding in-person meetings and site visits in order to provide education around the site’s history and the project goals, and give everyone a chance to hear each other’s feedback in real-time. Then COVID forced us to go virtual so we hosted a community webinar and developed an online survey. We collected a lot of valuable feedback that we were able to bring back to the dam owners to help them make the best decision possible.

Q. Do you have a favorite or most memorable moment from the project?

Meeting with all the different stakeholders and talking to them about the project is probably one of my most rewarding parts of the project. Educating people on why these diadromous fish are important and helping them understand the different benefits of a fish passage is very important to me and incredibly rewarding.

Q. The Bellmore Creek project is part of a larger initiative called “Seatuck’s Long Island River Revival.” Can you talk more about that?

[embed]https://youtu.be/f5BV2u04Q5A[/embed]

Q. What connectivity and restoration project is coming up next for Seatuck?

[embed]https://youtu.be/wyRIHwMD5gE[/embed] To learn more, click below to explore the River Revival Story Map:

Q. How can an individual get involved with Seatuck?

[embed]https://youtu.be/rT1CinT-xKs[/embed]

Q. How can Princeton Hydro support you/your organization in the future?

Princeton Hydro has been a fantastic partner through the Bellmore Creek Project. We look forward to working with Princeton Hydro in the future and supporting our efforts to look at different fish passage projects, potentially dam removals, and related alternative assessments. For Bellmore Creek, Princeton Hydro provided valuable insights as to the different types of fish passage options and helped to identify the best option for our community. We’ll hopefully continue this partnership and work together to restore the ecological health of more coastal rivers and streams.

Q. What excites you about going to work everyday?

[embed]https://youtu.be/YtuZLiqrYYs[/embed]  

Thanks to Seatuck Environmental Association and Emily Hall for being a great project partner and participating in this Client Spotlight. To learn more about Seatuck, visit their website.

Click here to read a previous edition of our Client Spotlight blog series, which features Medford Lakes Colony in New Jersey:

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River herring are diadromous fish, which means they migrate between fresh and salt water. On Long Island in Nassau, New York, they migrate between Mill Pond Creek and the ocean, using Bellmore Creek as a highway. The river herring live much of their adult life in the ocean and travel to the freshwaters of Mill Pond Creek in order to spawn.

There is a dam located at the point where Bellmore Creek meets Mill Pond. When the water level isn’t high enough, the river herring can be blocked from swimming upstream to reach their spawning habitat. This not only has negative implications for river herring species, it also negatively impacts the entire ecosystem. The herring are a vital food source for countless other fish, birds and animals, and play a critical role in transferring marine derived nutrients into surrounding estuarine, freshwater and upland habitats.

River Herring have been documented at the base of the dam at Mill Pond for the past several migration seasons. Bellmore Creek is one of only two-dozen streams on Long Island where remnant runs of this ecologically valuable, diadromous fish still exist.

In 2018, Seatuck Environmental Association, a nonprofit dedicated to wildlife conservation on Long Island, was awarded the NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources Grant for Tributary Restoration and Resiliency to design a fish passage at the dam intersecting Mill Pond and Bellmore Creek. Seatuck contracted Princeton Hydro to design the fish passage options.

The project goals not only include increasing river herring spawning habitat, but also are focused on improving the ecological condition of Bellmore Creek, maintaining and enhancing recreational values, and improving site resiliency to climate change and sea level rise.

To provide guidance on the project, Seatuck assembled an advisory committee with representation from Nassau County (dam owner), New York State Office of Parks, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Nassau County Soil and Water District, Town of Hempstead, the South Shore Estuary Reserve, Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, South Shore Audubon, and the Bellmore Civic Association.

Princeton Hydro conducted a study to understand the feasibility of enhancing fish passage to Mill Pond. The initial site investigation, in November 2020, included sediment probing and sampling, and a thorough assessment of the existing dam, spillway, water pipes, bridges and upper reaches.  [gallery ids="10580,10579,10581"]   Based on its findings, the Princeton Hydro team developed three design options to restore fish passage:
  1. A nature-like fishway, where a channel made of boulders and concrete is constructed through the dam to mimic a natural, steep stream;
  2. A technical fishway, where a pre-fabricated metal fish ladder is placed within the spillway to allow fish to swim up and into the pond; and
  3. A full or partial dam removal, where the spillway is fully or partially removed and the pond is restored to a free-flowing stream and wetland complex.

On June 8 2021, Seatuck, Nassau County and Princeton Hydro held a virtual meeting to get the public’s input on each of the fish passage designs. Emily Hall, Conservation Policy Advocate for Seatuck, also put together an informative presentation in which she provides a synopsis of Bellmore Creek's history, describes the project goals, and discusses the community engagement process and the results of the public opinion survey. Watch it now:

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvdWsI_3MIU[/embed]

Additionally, Princeton Hydro completed a site investigation including topographic survey, sediment probing and sampling, and assessment of structures to identify project opportunities and site constraints. Sediment sampling and analysis indicated no major concerns with contamination. By performing analysis of the longitudinal profile, Princeton Hydro determined that the full dam removal (option 3 listed above) was not recommended due to the potential for initiating uncontrolled channel incision below the original river grade into Mill Pond and upstream reaches.

Ultimately, the technical fish ladder (option 2 listed above) was chosen as the most appropriate solution for restoring fish passage to Mill Pond and maintaining existing recreational values. Princeton Hydro is currently developing preliminary engineering design plans for this selected alternative as part of this phase of the project.

The focus on Bellmore Creek is just one of many projects included in Seatuck’s River Revival program, which has sought to clear similarly blocked waterways across Long Island. If you’re interested in learning more about Seatuck’s conservation work and getting involved, click here.

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen solutions for fish passage including the installation of technical and nature-like fishways and the removal of dozens of small and large dams throughout the Northeast. To learn more about our fish passage and dam removal engineering services, click here and check out our blog:

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The Aquetong Creek Restoration Project is situated within the former basin of Aquetong Lake, which was a 15- acre impoundment formed in 1870 by the construction of an earthen dam on Aquetong Creek. The cold-water limestone spring, which flows at a rate of about 2,000 gallons per minute at approximately 53ºf, is known to be the largest of its kind in the 5-county Philadelphia region, and one of the largest in the state of Pennsylvania.

In 2015, the Township of Solebury commenced the restoration of Aquetong Spring Park, first with a dam breach followed by a large stream restoration, reforestation, and invasive species removal. In September, the park was officially reopened to the public following a ribbon cutting ceremony. The event featured a blessing from the Lenni-Lenape Turtle Clan, the original inhabitants of the land.

 

SITE HISTORY

Prior to European settlement, the Lenni-Lenape Tribe inhabited a village close to the spring and designated the spring “Aquetong”, meaning “at the spring among the bushes." After an outbreak of smallpox, however, the tribe abandoned the village. William Penn acquired Aquetong Spring in the early 1680’s as part of his peaceful treaty with Lenni-Lenape. The park land transferred hands many times before it was owned by Aquetong Township.

The dependability of the water flow made the Aquetong Creek an ideal location for mills. As of the early 1800’s, Aquetong Spring is known to have supplied enough water to turn two grist mills regularly throughout the year, and to have concurrently powered numerous mills including a paper mill, a fulling mill, two merchant mills, four sawmills, and an oil mill.

Around 1870, the 15-acre Aquetong Lake was created by constructing a dam at the east end of the property. This provided additional power for the local mills and a recreation area for the public. A fish hatchery was constructed at the base of the spring outfall, portions of which can still be viewed today. Shad, brook trout, and terrapin turtles were raised in the hatchery, which was available for public viewing at a cost of 25 cents per person.

Then, in 1993, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission acquired the property. A few years later, with the support of Bucks County Trout Unlimited, Solebury Township began negotiating to obtain ownership of the site. Around 1996, the State performed emergency repairs on the dam; a six-foot section of the outlet structure was removed in order to take pressure off the aging barrier. This lowered the level of the lake and added about 80 feet of wetlands to the western shoreline. However, it was recognized that a complete repair of the dam could cost over $1 million and might not be the best choice for the environment.

In 2009, after almost 15 years of negotiations, Solebury Township gained control of the property, with the goal of preserving this important natural resource. It purchased the lake and surrounding properties from the state and obtained a 25-year lease. The Township’s total costs were substantially reduced because it received a large credit in exchange for its commitment to repair the dam in the future, as well as funding from the Bucks County Natural Areas Program toward the purchase.

Following the purchase, the Township engaged in a five-year process of community outreach and consultation with environmental experts in which it considered alternatives for the Aquetong Lake dam. Choices included rebuilding the dam in its then-current form, creating a smaller lake with a cold-water bypass into Aquetong Creek, or breaching the dam and restoring a free-flowing stream. Ultimately, recognizing that the lake was a thermal reservoir which introduced warm water into Aquetong Creek and eventually into the streams and river, the Township decided to breach rather than restore the dam, and return the site to its natural state.

[caption id="attachment_10303" align="aligncenter" width="832"] The Aquetong Creek restoration site is located in Solebury Township, Bucks County, PA, and encompasses the boundaries of the former Aquetong Lake. The Lake was a 15-acre impoundment formed in 1870 by the construction of an earthen dam on Aquetong Creek. The Creek flows approximately 2.5 miles from Ingham Spring to join with the Delaware River in New Hope, PA.[/caption]  

RESTORATION WORK

The Aquetong Restoration Project got underway in 2015, and Solebury Township breached the historic mill dam in Aquetong Spring Park to convert the former lake into a natural area with a free-flowing, cold water stream capable of supporting native brook trout.

After the dam breach, areas of active erosion were observed along the mainstem and a major tributary of Aquetong Creek. The steep, eroding banks, increased the sediment load to the Creek's sensitive aquatic habitat.

As with most dam removal projects, a degree of stewardship is necessary to enhance the establishment of desirable, beneficial vegetation. Additionally, Solebury Township wanted to control invasive species in Aquetong Spring Park and replant the project area with native species.

The Township secured funding to construct riparian buffers, implement streambank stabilization measures, establish trout habitat structures within the mainstem and its tributary, control invasive species, and implement a woodland restoration plan. The project was funded by a $250,000 grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, with an equal match from the Township. Additional grants for the project were provided by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Solebury Township contracted Princeton Hydro to design the stabilization of the stream channel and floodplains within the former impoundment, monitor the stream and wetlands before and after implementation, and obtain the permits for the restoration of the former impoundment. Princeton Hydro team members designed the restoration of the main channel and tributary to reduce channel and bank erosion while supporting the brook trout habitat.

After gathering and reviewing the existing data for the site, Princeton Hydro conducted field investigations to inform and guide the final design including surveying cross sections and performing fluvial geomorphological assessments of the existing channel. Pebble counts were performed, cross sections were analyzed, and existing hydrological data was reviewed to inform the design. Simultaneously, an invasive species control and woodland restoration plan was developed for the park.

Data collected from the site was used to develop a geomorphically-appropriate, dynamically-stable design. The proposed channel design included excavation of impounded sediment to create stable channel dimensions, the addition of gravel, cobble, and boulder substrate where original/existing channel substrates were absent or insufficient, and the installation of large wood features to create aquatic habitat and enhance stability of channel bed and banks.

The banks and riparian corridor were vegetated with native seed, shrubs and trees to ultimately create a wooded, shaded riparian buffer. The design ultimately stabilized the streambanks with features that double as trout habitat and replanted the surrounding park with native vegetation.

The project was replanted with an incredibly diverse set of native species that included:

  • herbaceous species: swamp milkweed, blue mistflower, and butterfly weed;
  • shrub species: silky dogwood, winterberry holly, and buttonbush; and
  • tree species: red maple, american hornbeam, and pin oak.
[caption id="attachment_10301" align="aligncenter" width="763"] The forested restoration area was planted with a wide variety of native tree, herbaceous and shrub species. Shown here from top left: Canada Goldenrod, New England Aster and River Birch[/caption]  

EXPANDING THE PROJECT SCOPE

In addition to restoring the stream in the former impoundment, as a part of its Strategic Master Plan for Aquetong Spring Park, Solebury Township expanded its focus of the restoration project to include another 20 acres of forested land.

For this, Solebury developed a Woodland Restoration Plan which identified over 1,000 diseased forest trees, composed mostly of ash (Fraxinus sp.) and black walnut (Juglans nigra). It was the Township’s objective to remove the hazardous trees, re-establish a native woodland community, and establish an invasive species management program.

The trees removed as a part of this effort were repurposed for the stream restoration project and used for habitat features, stream stabilization measures, and park features (i.e. benches).

[caption id="attachment_10295" align="aligncenter" width="749"] Hazardous trees were removed and repurposed in the stream restoration construction, including the log grade control structures pictured here.[/caption]  

Princeton Hydro also provided stormwater design support for adjacent areas in Aquetong Spring Park, including multiple stormwater connections to the main tributary. After completion, Princeton Hydro provided bid assistance, developed a probable cost, drafted technical specifications, and produced a bid package to assist Aquetong Township in bringing the project to construction.

This restoration success could not have been possible without the hard work of so many dedicated project partners: Aquetong Spring Advisory Council, Bucks County Trout Unlimited, Solebury Township, Aquetong Township, Simone Collins Landscape Architects, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PA Department of Community and Economic Development, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Lenni-Lenape Turtle Clan, and Princeton Hydro.

Princeton Hydro specializes in the planning, design, permitting, implementing, and maintenance of ecological rehabilitation projects. To learn more about our watershed restoration services, click here.  To learn about some of our award-winning restoration projects check out our blogs about the Pin Oak Forest Conservation Area freshwater wetland restoration project:

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. In celebration, The Watershed Institute launched its “Watershed Wednesdays” webinar series, which explores a variety of topics related to the environmental laws that arose after the Clean Water Act was instated. The webinars are free, open to the public and occur on the 3rd Wednesday of each month between 6 - 7:15pm EST.

To kick-off the Watershed Wednesdays series, three experts from the Princeton Hydro team led a workshop about “Stream Bank Restoration in Communities & Backyards,” which included three presentations and a Q&A session. Participants learned about what they can do to improve the water quality and restore the natural function of their neighborhood streams. Scroll down to watch the full webinar!

In the first presentation, Water Resources Engineer, Jake Dittes, PE, provides an overview of streams, how they flow, they’re natural evolution, how they’re being impacted by climate change, and the dynamic connection between land and water. Jake provides simple action items that everyone can do to reduce stormwater flow, limit runoff pollutants, boost and protect the natural floodplain.

Casey Schrading, E.I.T., Staff Engineer, shares examples of degraded stream systems, discusses a variety of restoration techniques, and talks about his experience with overseeing the largest stream restoration project completed in Maryland. He also provides helpful tips and examples of what individuals can do in their own backyards to promote stream bank stabilization.

The third presentation is given by Landscape Architect, Cory Speroff, PLA, ASLA, CBLP. In it he provides an in-depth look at a stream, floodplain and multi-functional riparian buffer restoration project Princeton Hydro completed at Carversville Farm in Western Pennsylvania. And, he provides an in-depth look at the native plants that were installed in various zones throughout the farm and how the different plants help reduce stormwater flow, absorb excess nutrients, and prevent erosion.

To view the full webinar go here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLLkVUp5hJM

Many thanks to The Watershed Institute’s Executive Director Jim Waltman and River-Friendly Coordinator Olivia Spildooren for hosting the webinar and inviting Princeton Hydro to participate. To learn more about the Watershed Wednesdays series and other upcoming adult-education events, click here.

The Watershed Institute, established in 1949, is a nonprofit organization located in Central New Jersey that promotes and advocates conservation and restoration of natural habitats, collects data on environmental conditions in its watersheds, and provides environmental education through numerous programs.

Princeton Hydro specializes in the planning, design, permitting, implementing, and maintenance of ecological rehabilitation projects. To learn more about our watershed restoration services, click here.

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UPDATE: THIS PROJECT WAS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED IN OCTOBER 2021.

Just east of Washington D.C. in Prince George’s County, what will soon be the largest stream restoration in Maryland, is well underway. In this highly urbanized watershed, over 7 miles (41,000 linear feet) of Tinkers Creek and its tributaries, Meetinghouse Branch and Paynes Branch, will be stabilized and restored using nature-based design techniques.

The project was designed by Princeton Hydro for GV-Petro, a partnership between GreenVest and Petro Design Build Group. The project aims to prevent erosion and restore wildlife habitat using bioengineering techniques like riparian zone planting and live staking. 10,985 native trees and shrubs will be planted in the riparian area, and 10,910 trees will be planted as live stakes along the streambank. Recently, this project was expanded to include the stabilization and restoration of stormwater outfalls and headwater tributaries.

Working with Prince George’s County Department of the Environment and coordinating with the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, this full-delivery project is designed to meet the County’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Discharge Permit conditions.

[caption id="attachment_7741" align="aligncenter" width="936"] This photo, taken during a site visit in January 2021, documents the Tinkers Creek Stream Restoration progress[/caption]  

Prince George’s County borders the eastern portion of Washington, D.C and is the second-most populous county in Maryland. Tinkers Creek is located on a five-mile stretch of stream valley, from Old Branch Avenue to Temple Hills Road, in Clinton and Temple Hills, Maryland. The tributary system of Tinkers Creek is described as "flashy," meaning there is a quick rise in stream level due to rainfall as a result of its high proportion of directly connected urbanized impervious areas. Its streams have storm flow rates many times higher than that from the rural and forested sub-watersheds in the southeast.

[caption id="attachment_7890" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Unstable stormwater outlet in the Tinkers Creek Restoration area (before).[/caption]  

This stream restoration project was identified as a priority due to the significant levels of channel incision and the severity of erosion and its impacts on surrounding neighborhoods. Additionally, the project’s proximity to the headwater reaches located on Joint Base Andrews (JBA), so the ability to improve water quality and wildlife habitat made this project a high priority. It provides an important opportunity to create a safe, sustainable, and resilient stream valley in the community.

The design for the stream, and all of the tributaries within the restoration area, will restore these channels to their naturally-stable form. During the preliminary assessment of onsite conditions, the stream and tributaries within the restoration area were classified using geomorphic assessments and hydrologic and hydraulic analysis.

Once the stream types and conditions were identified, a series of restoration approaches were designed, including floodplain creation, bank stabilization using natural materials and plantings, re-aligning straightened stream channels to have a more natural sinuosity, stormwater conveyance, and natural material grade control structures. These changes will help to reduce channel flow velocities and shear stress for flows greater than bankfull; reduce bank erosion and maintain bank stability; treat and attenuate stormwater flows; stabilize outfalls and the receiving stream channels; and stabilize vertically unstable channels.

[caption id="attachment_7742" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Streambank stabilization measures in place, post construction (2019).[/caption]  

The project area contained various subsurface utilities like sanitary sewer along the entire reach and fiber-optics and natural gas lines crossing the corridor. Once constructed, the project will improve hydraulic, geomorphic, physicochemical, and biological stream functions. It will also increase floodplain connectivity, improve bedform diversity, restore riparian buffers, and protect public subsurface utilities. In addition to water quality benefits, this project will preserve and enhance the forested floodplain and provide ecological uplift throughout the entire stream corridor.

Planning and design for Tinkers Creek Stream Restoration began in early 2018 and construction is expected to finish ahead of schedule in Spring of 2022. Princeton Hydro is providing construction oversight of all critical structures, such as grade controls, headwater step-pool grade controls, bank stabilization structures, and stormwater outfalls.

The below photos, taken during a site visit in January, showcase some of the exciting progress made by the project team thus far.

[gallery link="none" columns="2" size="medium" ids="7744,7746"]

Stay tuned for more project updates!

Princeton Hydro specializes in the planning, design, permitting, implementing, and maintenance of ecological rehabilitation projects. To learn more about our watershed restoration services, click here. We have partnered with GreenVest on a number of projects, including the award-winning Pin Oak Forest Conservation Area freshwater wetland restoration project and the Mattawoman Creek Mitigation Site wetland enhancement and restoration initiative. To learn more about GreenVest, click here.

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In addition to providing drinking water to nearly 2 million people, the Schuylkill River is the largest tributary of the Delaware River and supports crucial ecological and social functions for the millions of residents who live near its banks.

The Industrial Revolution and coal operations had severe and lasting negative impacts on the river’s water quality and ecological health. Over the years, thanks to the hard work of many scientists, conservationists, and concerned citizens, the Schuylkill River is making a comeback; and you can help!

Princeton Hydro is working with project partners Schuylkill River Greenways, Berks Nature, Bartram’s Garden, The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, and Stroud Water Research Center to conduct a water quality project on the Schuylkill River. The project, which focuses on the main stem of the river - from Berks Nature in Reading to Bartram’s Gardens in southwest Philadelphia - has four main components:

  1. Gather opinion and perceptions via a community survey.
  2. Perform water quality monitoring to understand the ecological status.
  3. Launch a Community Scientist program for perform litter assessments.
  4. Develop a community engagement plan with educational outreach.

Becoming a Community Scientist for the Schuylkill River is an easy way for everyone to get involved and is a crucial component to protecting and restoring this precious resource. The Community Scientist Visual Assessment takes only five minutes and can be conducted from a mobile device:

  1. Find a spot along the Schuylkill River.
  2. Open the survey using your phone's browser: bit.ly/litterform
  3. Select your location on the map.
  4. Upload a photo.
  5. Rate the 100 foot section of the river.

We created a video, featuring Aquatic Ecologist Michael Hartshorne, that provides a brief walkthrough of how to assess litter and fill out the monitoring form.

WATCH NOW:

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfJByAzthT4&t=3s[/embed] Take a hike, walk, or bike ride, grab your phone, and join the endeavor to preserve the Schuylkill River! And, check out Schuylkill River Greenways to learn about more ways to get involved.

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It’s been two and a half years since the removal of the Columbia Dam on the Paulins Kill in Northern New Jersey. In that time, American Shad have been discovered upstream of the former dam, a major indicator of improved water quality. The following time-lapse videos highlight the amazing efforts by the project team to reconnect the floodplain and restore fish passage, enabling the river to return to its former ecological state.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzIcjCRXXSA&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

Removal of the Columbia Dam. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Contracted by New Jersey Nature Conservancy and American Rivers, our team of engineers and ecologists designed, permitted, and oversaw the removal of the Columbia Dam, the largest dam removal to date in New Jersey. Additional project partners include U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Riverlogic, and SumCo EcoContracting.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvRHQCXLwyg&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

Construction of fish passage structures. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdkF1K8HLbQ&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

Removal of the Remnant Dam. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen the reconstruction, repair, and removal of dozens of small and large dams in the Northeast. To learn more about our fish passage and dam removal engineering services, visit: bit.ly/DamBarrier.

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According to American Rivers, “more than 90,000 dams in the country are no longer serving the purpose that they were built to provide decades or centuries ago.” As these dams age and decay, they can become public safety hazards, presenting a failure risk and flooding danger. Dams can also be environmental hazards, blocking the movement of fish and other aquatic species, inundating river habitat, impairing water quality, and altering the flow necessary to sustain river life.

Removing nonfunctional, outdated dams has myriad ecological benefits. Dam removal can improve water quality, restore a river back to its natural flowing state, reconnect river habitats that benefit fish and wildlife, and significantly increase biodiversity for the surrounding watershed.

Removing Dams in Lehigh Valley

For over a decade, Princeton Hydro has partnered with Wildlands Conservancy to remove dams in the Lehigh River Valley. Wildlands Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust in eastern Pennsylvania, works to restore degraded stream and wildlife habitat with a primary focus on Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh River watershed, which is a 1,345 square mile drainage area that eventually flows into the Delaware River.

Wildlands Conservancy contracted Princeton Hydro to design and permit the removal of two dams on the Little Lehigh Creek. Although it is referred to as the “Little Lehigh,” the 24-mile creek is the largest tributary of the Lehigh River. The dam removals restored the natural stream system, which hadn’t flowed freely in over a century.

Princeton Hydro also worked with Wildlands Conservancy to remove several barriers and three consecutive low-head dams on Jordan Creek, a tributary of the Little Lehigh Creek. Jordan Creek arises from a natural spring on Blue Mountain, and eventually joins the Little Lehigh in Allentown before flowing into the Lehigh River. It drains an area of 75.8 square miles.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" ids="12050,12053"] As part of the dam and barrier removal projects, Princeton Hydro: - Conducted dam and site investigations; - Oversaw structural, topographic, and bathymetric field surveys and base mapping; - Performed geomorphic assessments and sediment characterization to predict river response to dam removals and develop appropriate sediment management plans; - Performed hydrologic and hydraulic analysis to predict changes in river hydraulics; - Evaluated and addressed technical issues unique to each barrier; - Coordinated with regulatory agencies and entities; - Participated in community informational meetings; - Developed engineering design plans, documents, and permit application submissions; - Developed construction cost estimates for implementing the removal of the dams and streambank stabilization; and - Performed construction oversight during implementation.

Collectively, these dam and barrier removal projects on the Little Lehigh and Jordan Creek reconnected 15+ miles of river; restored fish passage; improved aquatic connectivity, fisheries, and benthic macroinvertebrate and wildlife habitats; reduced nonpoint source stormwater pollution; improved water quality; addressed vulnerable infrastructure; enhanced climate resiliency; and stabilized and restored the creeks’ channels and banks.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" ids="12043,12054"]

Upcoming Conservation Efforts

Building upon the successes of the Little Lehigh and Jordan Creek barrier removals, Princeton Hydro is again partnering with Wildlands Conservancy to remove three consecutive dams on Bushkill Creek in Easton, PA. The dam removal projects, which are slated for 2023, are part of a large-scale effort, involving a significant number of community and municipal partners, focused on restoring Bushkill Creek and the surrounding watershed.

The Bushkill Creek is a 22-mile long limestone stream that is designated as a “high quality, cold-water fishery.” It supports healthy populations of trout, and is treasured by anglers and the surrounding community as an important resource in an urban environment, spanning several boroughs and townships, eventually flowing into the Delaware River at Easton.

Environmental protection and restoration is a key goal of removing the dams. Removing these barriers will allow important migratory fish species to reach their spawning grounds once again, which has numerous and far-reaching ecological benefits. The project work also includes stabilizing the streambank, planting, and expanding riparian buffers, planting native trees and shrubs to filter runoff, and installing in-stream structures to restore fish habitat.

Stay tuned for more updates in 2023!

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen the reconstruction, repair, and removal of over 60 of small and large dams in the Northeast. To learn more about our fish passage and dam removal engineering services, click here. To learn more about Wildlands Conservancy, click here.

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