Maryland Dam Removal Receives Approval

The Board of Public Works today granted approval for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to move forward with the Bloede Dam removal project. The department and its partners have been working for several years on a comprehensive, cost-effective plan to remove the public safety hazard and fish obstruction on the Patapsco River in Patapsco Valley State Park.

"After approximately five years of very thorough and thoughtful planning, in consultation with affected stakeholders, we are thrilled that the wheels are officially in motion to remove Bloede Dam," Natural Resources Assistant Secretary Daryl Anthony said. "This project is testament to the power of partnership. American Rivers, along with our federal, state and county partners, have been instrumental in helping us to secure funding, work with the community and other stakeholders, and identify the technical resources necessary to enhance the Patapsco River."

Today's approval authorizes procurement authority to the department, as well as the transferring of funds to the department for dam removal, and $1 million in general-obligation bonds to fund an agreement with American Rivers for construction management.

Removing the Bloede Dam will achieve three primary objectives:

  • Improve Public Safety: Injuries and deaths have occurred at or near the dam
  • Restore Fish and Aquatic Organism Passage: The Patapsco River once supported large runs of shad, herring and American eels, but the dam blocked these historic migrations. Fish ladders constructed in the 1990s have been ineffective.
  • Share Historic, Cultural and Recreational Background: The dam was built in the early 1900s. After consulting with the Maryland Historical Trust and the community, the department is completing plans to record and share the dam's history.

The removal of the dam is the culmination of a thorough public input period. American Rivers has finished preparing the construction documents and permits, which remain pending. The initial phase of work ─ relocation of a nearby sewer line ─ is expected to begin this summer, with the entire project slated for completion in late 2017.

The Department of Natural Resources proposes to use general-obligation bond proceeds and grant awards from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Maryland Port Administration to fund 17.5 percent of the construction costs. American Rivers will cover the remaining construction costs ─ approximately $7 million ─ using grants secured from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and private individuals.

American Rivers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to, and experienced in, river enhancement and restoration projects, which has helped remove more than 200 dams across the country, including the Simkins Dam, which was located just upstream from Bloede Dam on the Patapsco River.