What is your main expertise?
My main expertise is in geology, environmental planning, community planning, and dam removal project management. I am a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and I held a Professional Geologist license in Georgia, USA for 18 years. Since 2008, I’ve been involved in either technical assistance or project management for the removal of 128 dams. This success is due to building strong coalitions of partners based on the multiple ecological and community benefits that dam removal provides.
Garmantown dam before and after
Can you mention some of the most interesting dam removals you have carried out?
I recently completed a multiple year effort to restore aquatic habitat connectivity in the headwaters of a large river system. This project involved removing the only three dams in the watershed to reconnect approximately 70 miles of headwaters habitat for iconic species. I returned one year after the final dam removal was complete to expand ecosystem and flood-risk reduction benefits by restoring a historic riparian wetland that had been drowned by the impoundment behind the dam. The community that had previously opposed dam removal now celebrates it because of the significant reduction in flood risk due to the removal of the dam and the flood-attenuation capacity of the restored wetland.
Patton dam before and after
What is your most proud moment in your career ?
Standing on the banks of a trout stream only 15 minutes after construction was complete and the excavators had been parked, I watched the first trout in 75 years find its way upstream past the former dam.
Do you have a take home message for upcoming dam removal project managers in Europe?
Begin with “low hanging fruit”, that is, dams that are in poor condition and are not providing a useful purpose. Blend strategy and opportunism when planning your dam removal program: sometimes removing a less obvious dam removal candidate will be the key to securing owner permission for removing the most important dam in the watershed. When planning a dam removal project, build broad coalitions of diverse partners that have an interest in the river.
Anything else you would like to mention?
As the old saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” Some dam removal projects take a very long time to reach fruition. I am currently working on three dam removal projects that are scheduled for construction in 2022 after ownership, use, lack of funding, or other issues delayed their forward progress for nearly two decades.