Programs and Presentations

Upcoming Programs

Dec. 5, 2014: Presentation on Patapsco Bloede Dam Removal

The Sierra Club is sponsoring a presentation about the status of dam removals on the Patapsco River, by Serena McClain of American Rivers and Jim Thompson from Maryland DNR. The meeting will begin at 6:30 with a casual social gathering and light refreshments, and the presentation will begin at 7:00, at the Robinson Nature Center, 6692 Cedar Lane,Columbia MD. The meeting is free and open to the public, but you could bring a few dollars for the nature center's donation box.

Until recently, the Patapsco River had four dams. The industries which used the dams are long gone, and now the dams are considered to be safety hazards and impediments to fish migration. Union Dam, near Rt. 40, was breached by a flood in 1990, and was removed in 2009. Simpkins Dam was removed a year later. Now, removal of Bloede Dam is in the final planning stages, and the destruction may take place in 2016.

However, removal of Bloede dam has some unusual complications, including the fact that the dam is an historic structure. Built in 1906, the dam is the first known hydroelectric plant which housed the generators inside the dam. Therefore, part of the dam may be preserved in-place as an historical display, and a viewing area with interpretive signs may be added.

Another complication is that a sewer line follows the river and goes through the dam. The pipe was buried into the sediment that has been deposited behind the dam, and the sediment is expected to wash away after the dam is removed. In order to ensure stability of the sewer line, the pipe will be relocated, probably to underneath the Grist Mill Trail. This would involve closing the trail for much of a year starting in 2015.

Several other local groups will sponsor similar public presentations, so you will have multiple opportunities to learn about this project. As other such meeting dates are set, we intend to publicize the details on our webpage and in email notices.