Richland Creek dams to be removed to improve water quality - WSMV News 4

Richland Creek dams to be removed to improve water quality

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This week, the first of 13 dams scattered along Richland Creek will be coming down.

The project is designed to promote better water quality and restore the natural qualities that allow wildlife and recreation to thrive.

Since the 1970s, a small dam has been in place next to McCabe Golf Course to create the pool of water needed to irrigate the grounds. It will be the first torn down.

"It's sort of reclaiming our urban streams to improve water quality, to improve recreational access, to provide a healthy stream environment with a vibrant city," said Mekayle Houghton with the Cumberland River Compact.

When they were originally built, the dams made sense. They were used by farming communities, factories and more industries in need of sustainable water.

"A lowhead dam like this is just obsolete," said Gina Hancock with Nature Conservancy. "We just don't need that kind of structure in the stream anymore."

Once removed, Richland Creek will flow freely again without obstruction. Hancock said that should restore wildlife patterns to their natural state.

"We think there are going to be a lot of fish reunions, because it's just a good time for fish to start moving up and down the stream," Hancock said. "They've been cut off from each other for more than 30 years, so we're thinking there's going to be a party."

Pools of water that can often become stagnant will be eliminated, opening the door to canoeing and a better overall water quality.

"By removing the dam, we bubble the oxygen back into the stream with the riffles and runs," Houghton said. "It has more oxygen in it, which is what the aquatic species need."

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