Tuesday, April 24, 2012

These people are doing good in the world. Check it out

I have fortunate to check this place out. It would be a simple thing to remove the dam- all that has to happen is it to happen. Take out the damn dams!

  Why the Beyond Searsville Dam coalition?

For over a century, Stanford University’s antiquated Searsville Dam has had an enormous negative impact on San Francisquito Creek watershed and greater San Francisco Bay estuary. Built between 1890 and 1892, the 65-foot tall and 275-foot wide Searsville Dam has lost over 90% of its original water storage capacity as roughly 1.5 million cubic yards of sediment has filled in the reservoir. Searsville Dam does not provide potable water, flood control, or hydropower.

The disappearing reservoir behind the dam flooded and buried a unique valley where over six streams flowed for miles and merged together among adjacent wetland ponds  and vast riparian forests before squeezing through a small gorge where the dam now stands. With potential dam removal, restoration of this valley and ponds can provide a valuable flood protection function by soaking up and retaining winter flows and releasing them gradually while providing excellent habitat. Enhancement of water diversion  operations, flood protection characteristics, and connectivity with proposed downstream flood protection measures could also be key design features of this multi-objective project, as has been accomplished elsewhere.

The impassable and obsolete Searsville Dam blocks native fish, such as steelhead trout, and other aquatic species from accessing San Francisquito Creek’s largest, historic spawning and rearing tributary flowing through Portola Valley and Woodside. The artificial, warm-water habitat of the disappearing reservoir also supports numerous non-native and invasive species, including a variety of fish and bullfrogs, which compete with and prey upon native species both within the reservoir and downstream where they spill over. The stagnant reservoir also degrades water quality and operations of the dam include no dedicated bypass flows for downstream fish and wildlife.

Sediment management alternatives can include stabilizing much of the sediment, vegetation, and riparian habitat currently in place while some can be used for agricultural uses nearby and other uses. Managers of ongoing wetland restoration projects in San Francisco Bay have expressed a need for millions of cubic yards of clean sediment. Recent USGS studies have also found that natural sediment transport down SF Bay creeks is needed to ensure that there is sufficient silt to help build up coastal wetlands in the face of projected sea-level-rise. Removal of Searsville Dam would provide some of this needed sediment back to bay wetlands while helping to minimize project costs.

Across the country and around the world, over 1000 dams that have outlived their usefulness have been removed to restore ecosystem health, improve flood protection, reduce safety risks, comply with environmental regulations, save money, improve water supply operations for the owners, revitalize communities, and provide unique educational and research opportunities. A multi-objective project that involves Searsville Dam removal, enhanced flood protection, sustainable water supply facilities, and watershed restoration can provide all of these benefits to the San Francisquito Creek watershed, Stanford University, and surrounding communities. The time is now to consider dam removal as a viable solution to the Searsville Dam dilemma. Beyond Searsville Dam is working hard to ensure that this happens.