Where is the dam located?
Who owns the dam?
The Village of Batavia previously owned the dam and the riverside parcel adjacent to the south side of the dam. In 2015, the property was transferred to the Valley View Foundation (VVF) for the purpose of removing the dam and restoring that section of the East Fork Little Miami River.
When and why was the dam built?
It was constructed in 1945 in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to conserve water during the dry seasons, to provide a water source for the Village of Batavia. The dam pool and pump station are no longer used as the Village is now supplied water through Clermont County.
What is the purpose of removing the dam?
Public safety is the primary reason for removing the dam. The dam is a liability for the Village of Batavia, because people who boat, fish or play on/near the dam risk serious injury and even death. River flow during rain events creates turbulence on the downside of the dam which presents a significant risk of drowning; low-head dams are often referred to as “drowning machines.” An accident in Englewood, Ohio a few years ago claimed the lives of 2 people who drowned in turbulent water.
River restoration is another reason for removing the dam. The East Fork Little Miami River is deemed “impaired” because it is currently not meeting State water quality standards. The loss of good stream habitat is one cause of impairment for the river. The dam is a barrier to the normal migration of fish and other river species. Removal of the dam will immediately restore the river to a natural, free flowing system which will improve conditions for fish, mussels and other organisms. The dam removal may also improve recreational opportunities in Batavia.
Who is involved with this project?
The Valley View Foundation, Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District and Ohio EPA, with the support of the Batavia Village Council. will work with community members to discuss options for the dam removal and river restoration. The project is being funded with a grant from Ohio EPA (see question #15). Representatives from Ohio EPA will help to guide the river restoration activities. Representatives from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and/or U.S. Fish & Wildlife may also provide guidance for the river restoration.
Who are the primary stakeholders involved in the discussion?
What is the current condition of the biological community in the project area?
Based on monitoring done by Ohio EPA and Clermont County, the low-head dam is impairing river habitat in this section of the East Fork Little Miami River. Many different species of fresh water mussels historically thrived in the East Fork River, many of which are listed on state and federal lists of threatened or endangered species. As part of their life cycle, freshwater mussels depend upon specific fish species as hosts. The loss of good river habitat has resulted in the decline of these mussel populations. Dam removal will immediately improve river habitat and over time, increase the diversity of fish and mussel species.
How will the river be restored?
Following removal of the dam structure, the section of river currently upstream of the dam may be restored using a technique called Natural Channel Design (NCD). The dam holds back (impounds) water and creates a lake environment in the river. This impoundment impairs river habitat. Natural Channel Design restoration activities will create more natural stream features that will turn the lake environment back into a natural river system. The stream banks will be graded and planted with native species.
Will there be mud flats?
There could be mudflats temporarily created in the bank/exposed area – not in the channel. The bank areas can be graded and planted with native species. After a few growing seasons, these areas will blend into the existing stream bank (riparian) and upland areas.
Will the river flow be too low to sustain aquatic life during the dry seasons?
No. This project is unique because it is downstream of the Harsha Lake reservoir. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers maintains a minimum flow of 30 cubic feet per second (cfs) out of Harsha Lake. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has expressed an interest in working with the Village to research the potential for pulsed or timed releases from the reservoir above the 30 cfs. These types of planned releases could occur in certain seasons to benefit the reproduction of fish and mussel species. Pulsed releases can also benefit recreational opportunities (i.e. increased flow during the weekends to accommodate recreational opportunities).
Does the dam pool or pump station have any use in emergency situations?
What will be gained in terms of recreational benefits?
Removal of the dam will open up 20+ miles of the East Fork Little Miami River to its confluence with the Little Miami in Hamilton County. Sport fishing will benefit from the open passage of
aquatic species, improving the diversity and abundance of fish species. The in-stream restoration also includes the potential to construct more natural pool areas for fishing. This segment of stream will also provide opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. The connectivity to Sycamore Park and the future hike/bike trail will also open up potential for increased recreation in the Village.
As a riverside landowner, how will I benefit from this project?
Removal of the dam eliminates a public hazard and creates the potential for safer recreation and enjoyment of the river. In-stream restoration will be confined to the stream channel. Riverside property owners can voluntarily include portions of their property in the restoration design if they so choose. Restoration activities will improve the overall aesthetics of the river and the stream corridor.
Will people working on restoration activities have to cross my land?
The dam removal and restoration will occur primarily through property owned by the Valley View Foundation. No activities (land surveying, planning) will occur on private lands without a landowner’s permission.
Who is funding this project?
The Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Funding Assistance (DEFA) is fully funding the project through their Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP). This program provides funding for water resource protection and restoration projects by designating interests payments from public water utility infrastructure loans to pay for the projects. The Batavia project is being funding by interests payments from the Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District state loans for sewer improvement projects in Greater Cincinnati. There is essentially no cost to the stakeholders for implementing this project.
Who can I contact to learn more about this project?