Princeton Hydro Dam Removal Work Featured at Brazilian Workshop

As Brazil is in the midst of a dam-building boom, scientists and engineers gathered at a workshop in Brazil to discuss, “Dam Removal & Optimizing Hydro Locations to Benefit Species Diversity in Brazil.”

Laura Wildman, P.E., Water Resources and Fisheries Engineer and Director of Princeton Hydro’s New England Regional Office, was invited to speak at the workshop. Her presentation focused on why we remove dams in the U.S. (the key drivers), how we analyze them for removal, and what we are learning through a wide diversity of completed case studies.

“It was fascinating to discuss a topic, such as the removal of dams, right as Brazil is focusing on building more hydro capacity,” said Laura. “Hopefully it is a sign that the hydro industry in Brazil, along with all the great Brazilian fisheries researchers, are quite forward thinking and are determined to maintain their country’s rich species diversity while also enhancing their energy options.”

The workshop, hosted by CEMIG and held at UFMG, involved many universities, including our workshop host Paulo Pompeu from UFLA, Dr. Paul Kemp from University of Southhampton, Dr. Jesse O’Hanley of Kent Business School, and many others.

The gathering inspired a lot of interesting dialogue around dam removal, optimizing locations for new hydro facilities, and how to best sustain connectivity and species diversity. Laura’s presentation entitled “Dam removal in the United States” along with the other conference presentations will be available on the CEMIG website soon or check back here on the Princeton Hydro blog for presentation links.

Princeton Hydro Participates in Rutgers Engineering Honors Council Competition

Princeton Hydro President Geoff Goll, P.E. participated as an alumni judge in the Rutgers Engineering Honors Council (REHC) Annual Case Competition.

The REHC Case Competition is an annual event in which students are given a case detailing a Rutgers-related issue and have a limited amount of time to analyze the case problem, develop a solution, and present their plans to a panel of alumni judges.

The judges critique the group and individuals on presentation, creativity, participation, feasibility of solution, and additional criteria. The competition is divided into two tiers, where the winners of each grouping of presentations then present to determine a final winner.

Over the past three years, more than one hundred students have participated and have included deans, alumni, administrators, and faculty in the development of the competition. This year, the judging panel incorporated four alumni, including Goll, who judged separate groups of three teams, and then joined together with the other judges to critique the final round of presentations.   

“It was a truly wonderful experience,” said Goll. “It’s so encouraging to see such eager and bright young minds that are on their way to becoming future engineering leaders.”

REHC, founded in 2011, is composed of Honors Academy and Honors College representatives and honor society presidents to provide a uniform voice to all sectors of the honors community in the School of Engineering. Students find unique opportunities to be mentored by industry professionals, engage with successful alumni, and exchange talents with their peers. 

Goeff Goll, Civil Engineering Class of 1990, brings extensive experience in water resources and geotechnical engineering to the table. He is highly experienced in stream restoration, dam removal, the design of large retaining structures, and building foundations and stormwater management systems.

 

Aquatic Organism Passage: A Princeton Hydro Blog Series

Introducing part one of a multi-part blog series about aquatic organism passage
What you’ll learn:
  • What is aquatic organism passage?
  • Why is it important?
  • How does Princeton Hydro support it?

This photo from NYS DEC demonstrates a well-designed stream crossing.

Since the US government began allotting funds for building roads in U.S. national forests in the late 1920s, hundreds of thousands of culverts were built across the country. Culverts, or drainage structures that convey water underneath a barrier such as a road or railroad, were originally built with the intention of moving water quickly and efficiently. While this goal was met, many migratory fish and other aquatic organisms could not overcome the culverts’ high-velocity flows, sending them away from their migratory destinations. If the culvert was perched, or elevated above the water surface, it would require the migratory aquatic animals to both leap upwards and fight the unnaturally fast stream current to continue their journeys. Additionally, turbulence, low flows, and debris challenged the movement of aquatic organisms.

Thus, the goal of aquatic organism passage (AOP) is to maintain connectivity by allowing aquatic organisms to migrate upstream or downstream under roads. AOP “has a profound influence on the movement, distribution and abundance of populations of aquatic species in rivers and streams”. These aforementioned species include “fish, aquatic reptiles and amphibians, and the insects that live in the stream bed and are the food source for fish”.

This photo from NYS DEC demonstrates a poorly-designed stream crossing.

A poorly designed culvert can harm fish populations in multiple ways. If sturgeon aren’t able to surpass it, habitat fragmentation prevails. And so, a once-connected habitat for thousands of sturgeon breaks into isolated areas where a few hundred now live. When the population was in the thousands, a disease that wiped out 80% of the population would still leave a viable number of individuals left to survive and mate; a population of a few hundred will be severely hurt by such an event. In sum, habitat fragmentation raises the risk of local extinction (extirpation) as well as extinction in general.

The splintering of a large population into several smaller ones can also leave species more vulnerable to invasive species. Generally, the greater the biodiversity harbored in a population, the stronger its response will be against a disturbance. A dwindling community of a few hundred herring will likely succumb to an invasive who preys on it while a larger, more robust community of a few thousand herring has a greater chance of containing some individuals who can outcompete the invasive.

Aquatic Organism Passage in Action at Princeton Hydro

Princeton Hydro recently teamed up with Trout Unlimited to reconnect streams within a prized central-Pennsylvanian trout fishery.  Our team enabled aquatic organism passage by replacing two culverts in Pennsylvania’s Cross Fork Creek. Read about it here!

Sources:

“Aquatic Organism Passage through Bridges and Culverts.” Flow. Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Watershed Management Division, 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.

Hoffman, R.L., Dunham, J.B., and Hansen, B.P., eds., 2012, Aquatic organism passage at road-stream crossings— Synthesis and guidelines for effectiveness monitoring: US Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1090, 64p.

Jackson, S., 2003. “Design and Construction of Aquatic Organism Passage at Road-Stream Crossings: Ecological Considerations in the Design of River and Stream Crossings.” 20-29 International Conference of Ecology and Transportation, Lake Placid, New York.

Kilgore, Roger T., Bergendahl, Bart S., and Hotchkiss, Rollin H. Publication No. FHWAHIF-11-008 HEC-26. Culvert Design for Aquatic Organism Passage Hydraulic Engineering Circular Number 26. October 2010.

American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro Receive “Project of the Year” Award

The American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro accepted the “Project of the Year” Award at last night's The American Society of Civil Engineers Central New Jersey Branch Annual Dinner. The team received the award for their work on the Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project. Photo from left to right: Tim Dillingham, American Littoral Society Executive Director; Helen Henderson American Littoral Society Ocean Planning Manager for the Mid-Atlantic region; Dr. Stephen J. Souza, Princeton Hydro Founder.

The American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro accepted the “Project of the Year” Award at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Annual Dinner. The team received the award for their work on the Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project.

”This was a terrific project conducted for a terrific client – the American Littoral Society,” said Princeton Hydro Founder Dr. Stephen Souza. “It also would not have been possible without a very supportive and engaged stakeholder group.”

The Barnegat Bay Project focused on reducing the amount of pollution entering the Bay’s waterways by retrofitting outdated stormwater management systems and implementing green infrastructure on previously developed sites.

“The project showcases the combined skill-sets of Princeton Hydro,” said Dr. Souza. “This was a truly collaborative effort involving the company’s aquatic ecologists, wetland ecologists, water resource engineers and landscape architect. We all worked closely to develop and implement green infrastructure solutions that measurably decrease pollutant loading to Barnegat Bay and correct localized flooding problems.”

Learn more about the award-winning project here: https://goo.gl/uQ3DfV. Big congratulations to the entire Littoral Society team for winning this prestigious award! And, many thanks to ASCE Central Jersey Branch for the recognition.

Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project Named “Project of the Year”

Princeton Hydro is thrilled to announce that American Littoral Society’s Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project has been named “Project of the Year” by The American Society of Civil Engineers Central Jersey Branch.

The award-winning project was a collaboration between the Littoral Society, Princeton Hydro and key partners that involved implementing a variety of green infrastructure stormwater management projects in order to decrease the volume of runoff and associated pollutants flowing into and damaging Barnegat Bay.

The green infrastructure projects were designed to treat stormwater at its source while delivering environmental, social and economic benefits to the Bay. Completed projects include:

  • Conversion of standard, grassed detention basins into naturalized bio-retention basins, as exemplified by the Laurel Commons Carnation Circle Basin, which now serves as a paradigm for the cost-effective retrofitting of aged, traditional detention basins
  • At Toms River High School North, the installation of tree boxes,
  • At the Toms River Board of Education offices, the replacement of conventional paving with permeable pavement,
  • At multiple sites, the construction of rain gardens,
  • At Toms River High School North, the construction/installation of stormwater management Manufactured Treatment Devices (MTDs)
  • At the Toms River Community Medical Center (RWJ Barnabas Health), the construction of a bio-retention/infiltration basin

The entire Princeton Hydro team extends our warmest congratulations to Helen Henderson and all of the folks at American Littoral Society for winning this prestigious award! Princeton Hydro is proud to partner with this incredible organization and is grateful for the work they do to protect our beautiful coastline and save the bay!

The Awards Dinner and celebration takes place on Tuesday, October 17th at the Forsgate Country Club. The “Project of the Year” nomination was originally submitted by Princeton Hydro founder Dr. Stephen Souza on behalf of the Littoral Society.

For a more detailed summary and photos of the award-winning project, click here.

Environmental Education Opportunity

Upcoming Course Announcement:
Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management 1-Day Class

Members of the Princeton Hydro team are teaching a 1-day class on Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management Techniques at Montclair State University.

This innovative class, offered through the University’s Continuing Professional Education Services program, focuses on the proper selection, design, implementation and maintenance of green infrastructure techniques commonly used in urban and suburban settings. Multiple site examples will be provided helping participants walk away with a deeper understanding of how to apply what they learn in real-world scenarios.

The course will be held on Friday, October 6, 2017 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Advance registration is required. To sign up for and get more course details, click here.

Continuing Professional Education Services, LLC is the brainchild of Dr. Jorge H. Berkowitz and Philip I. Brilliant. From the inception of the Continuing Environmental Education for Professional (CEEP) program at the College of Science and Mathematics (CSAM) at Montclair State University, Dr. Berkowitz and Mr. Brilliant have been in the classroom and in the boardroom assuring the success of the program. In order to better serve the community of professionals, Dr. Berkowitz and Mr. Brilliant stepped forward with a solution that has saved the ability to offer continuing education credit-bearing courses at the second largest public higher education institution in New Jersey. Together they form CPES at Montclair State University!

Princeton Hydro President Gives Keynote Address

Princeton Hydro President Geoff Goll, P.E. gave the keynote address to kick-off the University of Wisconsin-Madison‘s Master of Engineering Management (MEM) 2017 Residency for 1st and 2nd-year students.

As a 2013 graduate of the MEM program and a leader in the industry, Geoff was invited to give the presentation and offer to students his perspectives, insights and advice on how to transition from being a technical expert to a role in leadership and management.

A personal message from Geoff:
“I was very honored to present to the students and faculty of the MEM program, as they are a prestigious group of professionals that represent many sectors in the engineering industry. The MEM program provided me with the tools to develop as a manager and leader at my firm, and I was very glad to be able to give back by sharing my experiences. I was also very excited to share the story of the firm’s history, which Dr. Stephen Souza, Mark Gallagher and I built from a small 7-person firm started in Steve’s attic, to the multi-state, nearly 50-person firm we are today.”

The UW-Madison College of Engineering ranked in the Top 20 Online Engineering Management Degree Programs. This 30-credit hour, cohort-style program is designed for mid-career engineers, focusing on how to strengthen the skills and develop the knowledge needed to lead organizations, teams, and resources in the engineering field. Each summer, students are required to participate in a weeklong residency course on the Madison campus to conclude summer coursework and lead into the fall courses.

The Restoration of Bound Brook

To the delight of fish and environmentalists alike, an important step has been made in the removal of the aging spillway of Hunters Pond Dam in Scituate and Cohasset, Massachusetts. The spillway was notched to ensure a gradual release of water from the impoundment, letting Bound Brook flow free again after being dammed for centuries.

As the first barrier upstream from the Atlantic Ocean, the dam’s removal restores 5-miles of river spawning ground and habitat for alewife, blueback herring, American eel, rainbow smelt, sea lamprey and other important species. The removal of Hunters Pond Dam also reduces the threat of dam failure.

Princeton Hydro is proud to be working on this project with T Ford Company, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and many other great partners. The project is funded by grants from the Massachusetts Department of Ecological Restoration and the NOAA.

The project also includes rebuilding a culvert, removing a concrete spillway, and replacing a water main. Stay tuned for more!

The Return of the American Shad to the Musconetcong River

PHOTO/New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife biologist Pat Hamilton holds a shad near the Warren Glen Dam

After a 250+ year absence, American shad have returned to the Musconetcong River in Hunterdon and Warren counties. This milestone in the ecological recovery of the river is the result of the removal of dams on the lower Musconetcong several years ago, followed by the removal of the Hughesville Dam in Warren County last year.

Removing the dams opened nearly six miles of the Musconetcong to migratory fish, such as American shad, that spend much of their lives in the ocean but return to rivers and their tributaries to spawn. The shad’s return is a good sign of the overall ecological health and diversity of the river.

Princeton Hydro was proud to partner with the Musconetcong Watershed Association and so many other incredible organizations who came together on the Hughesville Dam Removal project. To date, Princeton Hydro has investigated, designed and permitted five dam removals on the Musconetcong.

The next Musconetcong dam targeted for removal is the 32-foot high Warren Glen Dam, less than a mile farther upstream. It is the largest dam in the river; by comparison, the Hughesville Dam was 15-feet tall.

Princeton Hydro President Geoff Goll, P.E. published this commentary piece titled, “The Return of the American Shad to the Musconetcong River:”

Update (June 15, 2017)NJDEP issued press release on the finding of American shad on the Musky. Bob Shin, NJDEP Commissioner, stated, “[t]he return of shad, a benchmark species indicative of the overall ecological health and diversity of a waterway, is an exciting milestone…. This achievement is the direct result of an ongoing partnership among state and federal agencies, nonprofit groups, and dam owners – all committed to making this beautiful waterway free-flowing again.

On June 7, 2017, Princeton Hydro celebrated along with the Musconetcong Watershed Association (and an excellent story of the MWA, human history of the river, and the efforts to preserve the history and ecology can be found here) and other project partners, the discovery of American shad on the Musconetcong River in NJ, over 250 years after they were blocked from this major tributary of the Delaware River – On September 8, 2016, then Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, held a press conference to celebrate the initial breach of the Hughesville Dam on the Musconetcong River (time lapse of removal is here). The press conference was held as the Department of the Interior via of the US Fish and Wildlife Service provided the funding to remove this obsolete structure through their Hurricane Sandy Recovery funding and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program. In addition to the Honorable Sally Jewell, NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, and US Army Corp of Engineers, Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Colonel Michael Bliss, were also on hand to speak about the importance of the Hughesville Dam removal and dam removal in general. To have such dignitaries at the highest levels of our Federal and State government speak at a project our firm designed was truly an honor and privilege. It was a great day to celebrate the next obsolete dam on the Musconetcong River to fall to the progress of river restoration. However, this would pale in comparison to the news we received on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, when the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife confirmed the presence of the American shad (Alosa sapidissima) above the Hughesville Dam!

Ms. Patricia Hamilton, Fisheries Biologist of NJ Fish And Wildlife, reported that they “spotted small schools of American Shad (at most 6 at a time) and captured 4 several hundred yards downstream of the Warren Glen Dam”, five miles from the confluence of the Delaware River. This is the first documentation of American shad on this river in over 250 years! So, what is the big deal you may ask.

The American shad is the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States’ salmon; it is actually a clupeid, a forage type fish closely related to herrings and sardines. Like herrings and sardines, they are a very oily fish, high in omega-3 fats, and low in contamination. It is also a fairly large clupeid, reaching three to eight pounds as adults. Like the salmon, American shad are anadromous, meaning they live the major part of their lives in the ocean and spawn up the coasts’ rivers. The American shad is not a spectacularly looking fish to say the least, and in fact, looks like a “generic” illustration of a fish, unlike the sleek and sexy salmon. It doesn’t even jump. However, this fish is a long distance and endurance swimmer, who’s migration from its hatching in rivers of the East Coast to its primary habitat in the Atlantic Ocean up in the Gulf of Maine, makes it one of the Earth’s great travelers. It can swim nearly 20,000 kilometers in its first five years of life and can dive to depths of up to 375 meters. And like all of its clupeid kindred, it is both a key prey species for many large fish and cetaceans in the Atlantic’s pelagic zone (open ocean) and an important commercial fish. But it is the existence of over-fishing, pollution and dams that had brought this species to its knees in many of the major eastern US rivers.

While the Delaware River shad and herring species have rebounded somewhat from low populations in the mid-1900s with the advent of the US Clean Water Act, they continue to struggle to regain their numbers, and in fact, there is now a moratorium on catching river herring in the Delaware River, and NJ has a moratorium on the harvesting of shad and herring on its tributaries to the Delaware River and Atlantic Ocean. As far as tributary access is concerned, the largest tributaries to the Delaware, the Schuylkill and Lehigh Rivers, are still blocked by dams to their mouths with very little efficiency of fish ladders provided; with their dams having very little success in gaining support for the removal of their blockages. So, any gains in additional spawning habitat for such anadromous species is viewed as a significant victory. The opening of the Musconetcong River to migrating fish will be a large contributor to the rebound of American shad, and other river herring species.

As one of the original 13 colonies, NJ was an integral partner in the start of the United States and early industrial revolution. It has been documented through our research during the dam removal regulatory permit application process on this waterway that the Musconetcong River has been dammed just about all the way to its confluence with the Delaware River since the mid-1700s, and likely much earlier. So, before there was anyone who understood the importance of unimpeded rivers for fish migration, this particular route was cut-off in its entirety, and then remained so for well over 250 years. So, it is understandable that there was no reason to assume that anadromous fish, such as shad, would resume the use of the river in a short period of time; however, there existed the right habitat for them, should they be afforded access…and the hope of the partners working on this river. There were doubters, to be sure, but “lo and behold”, we now know these mighty fish took advantage of an opening almost immediately.

Now, I am not stating that American shad immediately realized that the Hughesville Dam was gone and took a B-line from the Delaware River to the highest unimpeded location. First, other dams downstream of the Hughesville Dam had been removed over the past several years. These dams included the Finesville Dam (for an excellent video of the story of this dam removal, check out this video by the US Fish and Wildlife Service), removed in 2011 and the Reigelsville Dam remnants (there were two additional remnants found when the first foundation was removed) soon after the Finesville Dam was removed. So, it is likely that American Shad had started moving up the river to the base of the Hughesville Dam between 2011 and 2016. Still the response by American shad is nothing short of spectacular. For the over 250 years this species has not been able to use this river, at all, and now, within a span less than six years of dam removal activities, this fish is raring to comeback and, hopefully, spawn and increase their numbers.

And the efforts are not nearly complete for the Musconetcong River. The finding of the American shad five miles upstream from the Delaware River shows that this river can and, now, does support this fish. This generic looking fish, yet awesome product of evolution should only fuel the fire of continued restoration efforts, proof-positive that the labor and funds spent here, in this river, gets results. Such funds and labor (an staggering amount of time, blood, sweat, and tears) are required in order to get the river restoration work done. These projects have received the majority of their backing from the federal government, through grant programs, natural resource damage funds, and direct Congressional authorized funds. Without support from Washington, D.C.,, and Trenton, none of this work would be possible. And to get these funds, required work by the many team partners to prepare applications, meet with federal agencies, and educate the public through open and transparent meetings and communication. This was an impressive effort by the residents of this watershed, professionals who provided their expertise, and the state and federal employees who have dedicated their lives to this kind of work.

The Musconetcong River, with its recovering ecosystem, and its human and non-human inhabitants continue to amaze me in how we should all strive to strike balance between man and nature; and all this is being accomplished in the most densely populated state in the nation.

The finding of American shad gives me reason to cheer, and is why I do what I do. This is it, the return of a species that at one time we had no assurance would return, has returned. This is hope for us, after all.

Read more about Princeton Hydro’s river restoration and dam/barrier services on our website. Please contact us anytime if you have a project you’d like to discuss.

Princeton Hydro Announces Leadership Transition