Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski is telling Wildlands Conservancy that it can proceed with plans to remove the Robin Hood dam and the dam at the Trout Hatchery on the Little Lehigh Creek.
“I want to thank City Councilwoman Cynthia Mota and City Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee for conducting a fact-finding hearing on the issue,” Pawlowski said. “The feedback that I received from members of City Council indicated overwhelming support of the plan to remove the dams. I want to thank the members of the city’s Environmental Advisory Council for taking a leadership role in the discussion. I appreciate the opinions of all those who weighed-in as part of the process.”
The process of removing dams in Pennsylvania to improve water quality and eliminate safety hazards is not new. There are an estimated 7,000 dams in the Commonwealth, and the PA Fish and Boat Commission, along with many conservation organizations and other state agencies have been funding their removal for decades.
While a nostalgic throwback to an earlier era, the construction of most dams was for mills, the ice industry, and the development of the canal industry, mostly in the early 1800s through the 1940s. However, the impoundment of water in streams has been found to have profound, negative environmental effects. These effects include warming of the stream, the buildup of sediment behind the dam structure, reduced Oxygen, lower biodiversity, and prohibited fish passage. The latter prevents fish migration to take advantage of optimum stream temperatures and current, feeding and spawning grounds. There are also ongoing studies to suggest genetic isolation and weakening of species’ strains.
The Robin Hood Bridge Dam was built for a U.S.G.S. gauging station; the Fish Hatchery Dam was built for a water supply to the Trout Nursery; however, that water supply ceased when the Trout Nursery utilized a spring on site which provides 45-degree water, free of storm-event siltation and summer warming.