Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) is pleased to announce its participation in the Rudd Dam Removal Project, on the West Credit River, a headwaters tributary of the Credit River, in Hillsburgh. In February, ORA was invited to become a member of a collaboration of partners that make up The Rudd Dam Steering Committee, consisting of the landowner, Martin Rudd, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trout Unlimited Canada, Credit Valley Conservation Authority, Isaac Walton Fly Fishing Club, the Town of Erin, and Greck and Associates Ltd.
The Rudd Dam is more than 100 years old, and the landowner would like to remove the deteriorating dam in order to reduce the risk to public safety and public and private property, as well as improve stream water quality and natural river processes. The dam is approximately 10 feet (3m) high, 820 feet (250m) long, with an 8 acre (3.2 hectare) headpond, and is a barrier to prime Brook Trout habitat.
The West Credit River has been identified as a coldwater habitat for brook trout; however, during the summer, the shallow headpond results in significant thermal warming of the water, making the pond and downstream habitat unsuitable for brook trout. The goal of the project is to remove the barrier to fish passage, enhance brook trout habitat, and restore the natural flow and function of the West Credit River.
The area in and around the headpond is classified as a Provincially Significant Wetland, an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, and an Environmentally Significant Area. Removal of the dam will restore the hydrological cycle of the riparian cedar swamp – a Provincially Significant Wetland.
The river provides ideal brook trout habitat upstream and downstream of the pond, with significant groundwater inputs, so restoration of this section of the Credit River will improve target (optimum) temperature, and provide access to prime habitat and food sources.
Removal of the dam and its headpond will eliminate the thermal impacts, directly improve 2647 feet (807m) of brook trout habitat, and removing the barrier to fish passage will allow for unimpeded access to 5065 feet (1544m) of high quality Brook Trout habitat, as well as improve the ecology of the river. The Project will include a new rocky ramp and channel, and riparian tree planting within the old headpond area.
ORA is pursuing funding to help accomplish our objectives, and has submitted a grant application to the Ontario Community Environment Fund. If successful, a fluvial geomorphologist will be hired to design a new channel and rocky ramp, to rejoin the existing upstream and downstream channels once the dam, spillway and pond are removed. The funds will also allow for the hiring of a contractor to carry out the construction of the new channel and rocky ramp.
Some of the other Steering Committee partners are also applying to funding agencies in order to complete other components of the Project.
The Rudd Dam Removal Project is a collaborative effort that has brought several partners together to plan, secure funding, and carry out an important project that will result in high quality habitat for brook trout, and will also draw attention to the value and importance of healthy rivers.
This marks the first dam removal project in what we hope will be a long list of restoration projects yet to come. ORA has been working diligently to protect and conserve, and now we are in the beginnings of fulfilling our mission to restore riverine ecosystems.
Written by, Linda Heron, Chair, Ontario Rivers Alliance. For more information about Ontario Rivers Alliance and the work we do, you can check out our website here.