Introducing the dam removal expert:
- I am an expert engineer and I am working with my colleague Jean-Luc CARPENTIER, practitionner, for a water basin Agency in the North of France, “Agence de l’Eau Artois – Picardie”. This Agency, like the 5 other Agencies in France, grants funds to owner masteries to lead projects on rivers restoration, including dam removal or amenagement. I try to follow all the works in the basin and to give help to the practitionners, to lead eficiently this policy.
- More than 2.100 dams had been initially in 2010 recorded in the Artois – Picardie basin (20.000 km²), but due to field campaigns, the number of recorded dams is unfortunately still increasing nowadays. Since 2009, many projects have been technically and financially helped by the Agency to restore rivers continuity (about 400 dams !) in our basin, either through fish ladders, bypass arms or dam removals. Most of the projects are mainly focused on rivers where migratory fishes were recorded (especially on the coastal rivers of the basin); in these classified rivers, obtain ecological continuity is strictly required. However others projects have been led on the whole basin.
- The Artois – Picardie Water Agency has also led part of the works as a direct project mastery as the law enabled it since 2010 and it is the only one in France to do it. Most of the projects, whom Jean-Luc and I are working on in substitution and for the help of the dams owners, consist in the removal of those dams.
Can you mention some of the most interesting dam removals you have carried out?
The most interesting dam removals we have carried out concerned the Hem rivers and the removal of St Michel ‘s Dam Factory, in the town of Amiens. For the first one, it is a 5 years project where two dams were known to fully prevent migratory fish to reach upstream. As the dams were being sold, we decided to buy them, in order to restore river continuity. As we were the owner of the fields, it was easier to lead the more efficient project, to remove the dam and meander again the river. Just after the works ended, a survey allows us to discover nests of salmon and lampreys on the restored rivers. Many partners were involved in the project.
The removal of the dam in Amiens was the biggest yard we led in our bassin, on river continuity. There were many adverse sights, we had to cope with. The project lasted about 8 years, before the dam removal is effective and allows sea trout, eels and salmon to rich upstream parts of the Somme river. We were very proud of the return of the salmon to this river in the heart of the city, observed on video and published on social networks. It is during this project we joined the network of “Dambusters”, talking about it during the practitionner webinar, in July 2020.
+ 1-2 high quality pictures (landscape style) + and include weblink to the projects/news if possible (Please send as an attachment)
What is your main expertise?
- I am working mostly on river restoration and especially on projects linked to river continuity, from either longitudinal or lateral sides, with the main target to restore the hydromorphology of the rivers. In our basin, most of them have been altered, through many past events as wars and hydraulics amenagements (mostly for flood fighting and navigation).
- I have tried to develop an expertise on river restoration, as could develop a surgery in an hospital ! But I always kept my angler ‘s eyes, to focuse on works related to the biology of the rivers, especially fish populations (eels, atlantic salmon, sea trout and brown trout or pike). As a matter of fact, these species significantly decreased in our rivers, due to pollutions but mainly because they suffer from the lack of suitable habitats and the high amount of dams. It has always been the goal of my career project, since the end of my studies. I previously worked in an Angling Association, coping with restoration of the hydromorphology of the rivers and studies on fish populations related to the works we or other owner masteries led.
- What is the most proud moment in your career regarding removing dams and why?
- Firstly, in each project we have led, proud moments were always linked to the come back of the fish, especially migratory fishes (my angler ‘s eyes !), and the restoration of suitable habitats for their reproduction (finding nests in the riffles of living and restored rivers, or finding juveniles during electro-fishing surveys).
- I am also proud having in 2020 welcome, when she was then a Member of the Parliament, Mme Pompili, who is in 2021 the current French Environment Minister to a site meeting for the removal of the Amiens dam, which has been our most ambitious and costly construction site, after which the return of the salmon to this river in the heart of the city was observed on video and published on social networks. Unhappily, she was not efficient enough to prevent French Members of the Parliament to vote an adverse law on river continuity in France in August, 2021, which could also be the sadest moment of my career !
What is your take home message for upcoming project leader/managers in Europe?
- The interest of the river continuity and especially the one obtained by dam removal can be a controversial subject, especially in France. We have to demonstrate that it is often the main solution to restore efficiently rivers and fishes population. It is really an assault course against adverse sights, sometimes abusive. You must be convincing and you must never give up.
- So my take home message is this one : “YOU are right to lead such yards because by removing dams, YOU are permitting to restore living rivers and to enhance biodiversity ! And WE are not alone in UE and in the world as well” .
I will consider I had succeeded when I don’t need anymore systematically to justify myself about the works I am leading, and when fishes will be considered as species to take into account in environment policies, as well as other species to incarn the emergency to cope with climate change.
Anything else you would like to share?
You can find below some links on significant works we led to restore rivers continuity in Artois – Picardie basin
- Dam removals mainly on the Course river and the Créquoise River, in the Canche basin
- Dam removal and Hem river’s restoration in Tournehem-sur-la-Hem,
- https://professionnels.ofb.fr/node/1430 and https://professionnels.ofb.fr/sites/default/files/pdf/cdr-ce/REX2021_Moulin%20Leulenne%20sur%20la%20Hem_Fiche%204%20pages_V5%20OK.pdf
- Restoring river connectivity through the Saint-Michel’ s Factory Dam in Amiens, https://professionnels.ofb.fr/sites/default/files/images/PTT-CDR-Courdeau/REX%20Usine%20St%20Michel%20Amiens_fiche%204%20pages_V6%20OK.pdf
- Restoration of lateral continuities on navigated rivers enhancing pike (Esox lucius) spawning. https://professionnels.ofb.fr/sites/default/files/rex_r1_lys_canalisee_1.pdf
Following of the river continuity projects in Artois Picardie Basin, including those we led directly