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Mussels Relocated During Williamsburg Dam Removal

Courtesy of Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District
The Williamsburg dam may look scenic, but lowhead dams like this are a public safety risk because of deadly water patterns under the surface.

A team of volunteers is expected to help mussels in the East Fork of the Little Miami River find new homes Saturday. They're being relocated as work begins on removing the lowhead dam in Williamsburg.

Becky McClatchey, natural resource specialist with the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District, says the mussels are an important part of the river's ecosystem.

"The East Fork has a pretty rich population of mussel species historically," she says. "We see a lot of diversity of mussels, some state endangered. That's another real benefit of taking this dam out, that over time we'll see improvements in habitat and hopefully we'll see these mussel populations rebound."

Mussels help with water quality as well, improving the overall health of the waterway. These mussels will be moved upstream, and some will be transferred to the Mill Creek.

Credit Andy Betts / Betts Photography, used with permission
Natural Resource Specialist Becky McClatchey says this image of boys fishing from the Willliamsburg dam is "a good example of why these dam need to be removed. Many people fish or swim near the structures and don’t understand the risk."

Lowhead dams are dangerous because they create deadly water circulation patterns that trap victims underwater. McClatchey says Williamsburg no longer depends on the dam and nearby reservoir to the dam is being removed.

"They'll notch the dam this weekend and let the river level drop and we'll relocate the mussels," she says. "Then the following week they'll go in and do full removal of the structure."