Dam removal near OSU to change campus landscape

Jane BeathardThere's a very interesting article in the November-December issue of the Ohio State Alumni Magazine about removal of a low-head dam on the Olentangy River near the Columbus campus.

Anyone who attended OSU or frequents the Horseshoe on game days is probably familiar with the aging low-head, located north of the Fifth Avenue bridge. It was something of an eyesore and water around it smelled like a sewer. It was removed in August and September as the first phase of a comprehensive river restoration project to return the Olentangy to a more natural state and create "green space" on campus.

Volunteers relocated 5,000 mussels from the area prior to the start of demolition. Engineers will carve a new channel and create a wetland with native plants and trees.
That effort will require leveling an ineffective dry levy – another eyesore – along the river bank between Lane and Fifth avenues.

The dam was built in 1935 as a cool water source for the university's power plant. Some people feared removal would leave the campus open to flooding. However, engineering studies pre-demolition showed removing the dam would actually decrease the chance of flooding.

The Ohio EPA plans to study the aftermath of the dam's removal. Within three or four years, scientists expect to see pollution-intolerant species like banded darters, silver shiners and brindled madtoms return to the area.

Those critters came back to the river, following 2005 dam removals on the Olentangy in Delaware.

The $6.9 million project at OSU is being funded by the Ohio EPA ($3.6 million), the City of Columbus ($1.3 million) and the university ($2 million).

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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