TROY — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosted a public meeting Wednesday night to talk about the future of several low head dams on the Great Miami River in Miami County.
Representatives from the service and consultants from FlatLand Resources presented information about the study, which will explore the possibility of removing three low head dams in the city limits of Piqua and Troy, and took questions.
This was the first in a series of public forums, future events have not yet been scheduled.
Donnie Knight with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, himself a Troy native, said there is a trend toward the removal or modification of low head dams to encourage recreational and economic development along the river.
Knight said that potential dam modification projects are a unique opportunity for the conservation and restoration of the aquatic system.
“We don’t know still at this point what that includes,” he said. “Getting some feedback from you folks is a critical part.”
The study will look at the feasibility of removing or modifying three dams in Piqua and Troy on the Great Miami River, and will include hydrologic and environmental impacts, cost-estimates, permits and more.
The group asked attendees how they use the river and their thoughts on the removal or modification of the dams.
Participants listed a variety of uses, including fishing, kayaking, boating, hunting, wildlife viewing and more.
One participant said that the river has been his “playground” for many years and noted that the river is cleaner now than ever before in his memory. He added that the dams are a “danger point.”
Other residents raised concerns about water levels and Phil Tevis, owner of FlatLand Resources, said that there will definitely be a drop in water levels if the dam is removed. He explained, that although the volume of water will be unchanged, the width of the channel will change over time.
Knight noted that it takes about five years for a river to recover from a dam removal. He pointed to the Stillwater low head dam removal in West Milton as an example, using fishing as an example. He said that the best fishing spots have moved, but the fish population is thriving.
Modification, whether complete or partial removal, would allow for improved fish migration, Knight said. Other attendees noted that studies have shown that low head dam removal or modification positively impacts the health of waterways.
To learn more about the study and sign up for updates on future meetings and the project progress, email MiamiRiverDamStudy@gmail.com.