Dam Removal in Coastal Watersheds
In coastal areas around the country, beach erosion has become a serious problem threatening public and private properties, recreational values and the economies of coastal communities. In many of these areas, beach sand supplies have been critically reduced by dams which impede natural processes that transport sediment from coastal watersheds to the shoreline. At the same time, many dams have been rendered obsolete by heavy siltation, structural defects and development of alternative water supplies.
In such cases, Surfrider Foundation has advocated for the removal of the dams or completion of studies to evaluate the feasibility of dam removal. Surfrider's Board of Directors has passed a Resolution in Support of Removal of Dams in Coastal Watersheds. This resolution refers to efforts of Surfrider Foundation's Ventura County Chapter toward removal of the Matilija Dam and restoration of the Ventura River watershed. Read more on this on the website of the Matilija Coalition and here.
Elsewhere in Southern California, Surfrider's West LA/Malibu Chapter is participating in a feasibility study regarding the potential removal of Rindge Dam, another obsolete dam which has been blocking the transport of sediment to Malibu Creek and Surfrider Beach in Malibu for decades. Read more on the Matilija Dam, Rindge Dam, and other dam removal projects from the California Coastal Conservancy.
Dam removal is not just being studied. In Washington, the Elwha Dam was removed in 2011, and the beaches are growing at the mouth of the Elwha River. Surfrider Foundation activists and former Washington Field Coordinator Ian Miller (now coastal hazards specialist for Washington Sea Grant) advocated for removal of this dam. More from Ian on conditions at the river mouth (December 2012). Here's another update with a nice aerial photo of the growing beach from March 2013. Further up the river, work on lowering the Glines Canyon dam is expected to be complete by summer 2013.