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With a countdown followed by cheering and an ovation, a blocking piece of timber was raised and finally, the river was free-flowing again in Vantaa, Finland.

The Tikkurila Dam was constructed in 1912 on the main channel of the River Keravanjoki on the south side of Tikkurila centre. For many centuries, this dam fed water to mills along the shore and provided water to the linseed factory. But for trout and salmon populations, the dam served as a total blockage along their once open migratory route. Over 80 years later, in 1994, the dam was renovated with a fish ladder to help fish move upstream again. However, this fish ladder was ineffective and many fish spawned right below the dam.

In 2014, the city of Vantaa carried out a pre-survey project in 2014 to determine the viability of the dam. They found the condition of the dam needed repairing and maintenance, dwindling migratory species populations and the opportunity for recreational development of the banks to satisfy the local community desires to enjoy the river. As a result of these three conclusions and the inclusion of relevant stakeholders, the decision to remove the dam was final.

Learn more about this cooperation from Tiia Valtonen (Ramboll Finland Oy), who did her Master Thesis on the Tikkurila Dam: https://youtu.be/AfyTLHl1CBY.

Graph by Tiia Valtonen, Ramboll.

The actual removal took place on 3 June 2019 with many in attendance to witness. To begin the event, Mr. Jasper Pääkkönen, actor and fly fisherman, shared his vision of free-flowing rivers full of fish with the audience. This was followed by music, singing, food and coffee, and people sharing their views and stories—a true celebration! The event coordinators also screened the film ‘Concrete Reasons’—a documentary about hydropower in Finland.

As project manager of Dam Removal Europe, it was quite an experience to witness this removal as I felt the enthusiasm and happiness from everyone working to protect rivers. Having this event coincide with the actual opening of the river, it allowed for all of us to connect with the river in a special way and gave the opportunity for others to learn about why this action is so important.

After the event, I had the opportunity to speak with the founder of WWF Finland and member of Parliament, Mr. Pertti Salolainen, to understand his opinion and view about the dam removal. Not so surprising, as he was thrilled to see it demolished!

Thank you Finland, thank you Vantaa and everyone there at the sparkling water! Hope to see your next dam removal soon…

More information about the removal will be published in our case studies in the next coming weeks.

Author: Iwan Hoving

Photo Credits: Iwan Hoving

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