Dam removal set for Ward Creek watershed | SierraSun.com

Dam removal set for Ward Creek watershed

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunWater flows over the dam at Ward Creek on Thursday. The Tahoe Conservancy is working to remove the dam and restore the stream base.

Activities such as logging, grazing, fire suppression and development have dramatically disturbed the Ward Creek watershed and are thought to cause other environmental degradation.

The California Tahoe Conservancy is proposing to remove an old concrete dam on Ward Creek near Sunnyside along with streambank renovation as part of the Ward Creek Watershed Restoration Project.

The early 20th Century dam was originally constructed for a private water system, which is no longer in use. The dam is not maintained and has caused erosion problems and restricts fish migration, said Peter Maholland, the wildlife enhancement program coordinator with the conservancy.

Dam removal is slated for late September when stream flow is low. Currently the conservancy is awaiting permit finalization.

The streambank restoration will include areas within 100 feet in either direction of the dam, Maholland said. The restoration project team will work for stabilization to reduce the erosion, as well as native re-planting.

The conservancy has completed several other river and meadow restoration projects, including Trout Creek and Angora Creek in the South Shore, said Rick Robinson, program manager for California Tahoe Conservancy restoration programs.

“We’ve been incredibly successful. [We’ve seen] dramatic changes in vegetative composition and improvements in fisheries,” said Robinson. “It’s looking very positive.”

The Ward Creek restoration will be similar to previous projects completed by the conservancy.

Every stream has its own watershed. Watersheds sustain and enrich water supplies, plant and animal habitat and water bodies for recreation. Small streams are an essential element of local geography and ecology, according to the Center for Watershed Protection Web site.

8 basic management tools needed to minimize development impacts when restoring a watershed:

– watershed planning

– land conservation

– aquatic buffers

– better site design

– erosion control

– stormwater treatment practices

– control of non-stormwater discharges

– watershed stewardship

(Information from the Web site for the Center for Watershed Protection)

The California Tahoe Conservancy and other Ward Creek planning team members will review restoration alternatives and address comments and concerns at a meeting Aug. 5 at 10 a.m. at the Tahoe Public Utility District board room.

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