Abstract: Session A  8:50 am (Back to Session A)
Taylor Run Low Head Dam Removal – Small Project Sites Can Present a Host of Design and Construction Challenges

Oakes Routt
Stantec Consulting Services Inc
Louisville, KY

Small stream restoration project sites can present a host of design and construction challenges.  Oftentimes, these small projects are not a priority for funding due to the increased challenges, the associated cost, and variable size of ecological benefit.  But when the project will remove the limiting factor in an otherwise functioning watershed, the ecological benefit can be huge.  Taylor Run, designated as an Exceptional Value Water with Migratory Fishes, is a direct tributary to the Tioga River in north-central Pennsylvania.  A partially failed low head dam, located in the lower third of the watershed, impeded the passage of native brook trout. The dam was originally constructed pre-1920s to impound water for use as the primary drinking water source for the Borough of Blossburg.  No longer in use and presenting a barrier to brook trout from using two-thirds of Taylor Run’s length, removal of the dam became a priority for federal, state, and local agencies as well as the local fishermen.

 To be considered successful by project stakeholders, the dam removal and associated stream restoration needed to remove the migration barrier, minimize impacts associated with disturbance of fine sediment deposits, and result in a stream channel stable in its profile with riffle and pool habitat characteristic of the upstream and downstream reaches.  The partial failing of the dam resulted in wetlands, classified as Exceptional Value, developing in the previously impounded area – how would impacts be minimized?  Within the design reach, the valley is less confined and is flatter than the upstream and downstream reaches that it would be tied to – this provided sediment transport challenges.  A 4-acre site, with nearly half of it being Exceptional Value wetlands and the rest of the site still providing wet soil conditions – how could the project be responsibly constructed?  Fine sediment deposits from 90 years of impoundment are easily mobilized when disturbed – how would transport of the fine sediment downstream during construction be minimized?  This talk will focus on the design and construction challenges associated with this small project site and how the client, designer, contractor, and community worked together to make it successful. 

About the Speaker: Oakes Routt, P.E. is a stream restoration design engineer/project manager for Stantec Consulting Services Inc.  He has a broad range of experience in stream restoration and has been involved in stream restoration designs throughout the United States for Stantec. Oakes’ holds Bachelor’s of Science and Master’s of Engineering Degrees from the University of Kentucky.