Trutta Environmental Solutions

Dam Removal Monitoring: Big Canoe Creek, Alabama

Habitat Quality Assessment, Habitat Suitability Modeling, Barrier Assessment, Infrastructure Assessment

Goodwin’s Mill Dam was removed from the Big Canoe Creek in order to eliminate a barrier to fish and mussel movement.  Given the high cost of dam removal and subsequent stream restoration, it is important to monitor stream conditions to assure that improved habitat conditions have resulted from the dam removal actions. One problem when attempting to document changes resulting from dam removal using traditional transect surveys is that the changes to the stream can occur over a broad area up and downstream from the removal site. This makes determining the placement and number of transects extremely subjective. More transects over a wider area will likely document changes more effectively, but this come with a high cost to the annual monitoring budget. To solve this problem, we used the High Definition Stream Survey method.  In only 2 1/2 hours, this technique allowed us to quickly collect 1-meter resolution data of both stream banks and the stream bottom for over 3 miles of stream centered on the dam site. The geovideo surveying method was used to delineate pool-riffle-run sequencing, substrate type and embeddedness, depth, bank full depth, bank angle and height, bank erosion potential, and riparian diversity. This information will help show trends in sediment movement, stream geometry, and habitat conditions by comparing the results of annual surveys and to document (hopefully) improving conditions resulting from the dam removal effort.

Dashboard view from the Big Canoe Creek Survey before removal of Goodwin’s Mill Dam.