Giving the Mad River Some Love

By Sarah Hippensteel Hall, Ph.D., manager of watershed partnerships

Sometimes it feels like the Great Miami River gets all of the attention.

But the Mad River, with its scenic vistas, abundant fishing and paddling, and new rock climbing access, offers fun and unique places that can’t be found on other rivers.

If you have paddled on the Mad River from Eastwood MetroPark to downtown Dayton, you know what it is like to float through the forested riverbanks and then transition to urban life with the approaching downtown and RiverScape fountains. And while a rather unique trip, there’s so much more to the Mad River.

Premier outdoor recreation 

Designated as part of Ohio’s only national water trail, the Mad River and its tributaries offers diverse recreation fun.

  • World-class fishing including brown trout
  • 60+ miles of flatwater for beginning and intermediate paddlers
  • 5 whitewater features for the advanced paddler on Buck Creek and the Mad River
  • 2 lakes for powerboating and sailing at CJ Brown Reservoir in Springfield and Eastwood Metropark in Dayton.
  • Rock climbing in the Mad River gorge

Play area along the Mad River at Eastwood MetroPark

The health of the Mad River

So the Mad River offers exceptional river recreation. But what about the health of the river? Is it safe to recreate?

The Mad River is in good condition based on the number and diversity of fish, bugs and habitat. As with virtually every water body in the country, however, there are threats. One of the most common is bacteria.

While bacteria levels often spike in the Mad River and its tributaries from fecal contamination after steady or hard rainfall, the good news is the bacteria tend to die off quickly.

Keep in mind that even if bacteria levels are elevated, the risk of exposure to bacteria is likely to be low unless you swim in or drink the river water. For most people, paddling or rowing is a relatively low-risk activity.

If, however, you have open wounds, skin infections, or have a compromised immune system, consult your physician before taking part in any river recreation, and use caution.

MCD has collected data to develop a forecasting app for parts of the Mad River. When completed, the forecasting app will be available on the Great Miami Riverway website.

MCD and the Mad River

Keeping rivers healthy is a big part of MCD’s water stewardship efforts. We collaborate with schools, communities and local groups to protect the river:

  • Bringing Trout Unlimited’s Trout in the Classroom program into local schools so students learn about the importance of clean rivers, and raise and release trout.
  • Assisting the City of Springfield in updating development policies to encourage green infrastructure, and installing rain gardens.
  • Tracking nutrient, bacteria, and other pollutant levels in the Mad River.
  • Sponsoring trash cleanups on the river.
  • Educating homeowners on proper maintenance of home sewage treatment systems.

Fishing on the Mad River

Stay Safe

And anytime we talk about river adventures, we need to talk about river safety. A few small steps can ensure your next experience on the Mad River—or any river for that matter—is a fun and safe one.

  • Do not enter the water when river levels are higher or water is moving faster. Most people underestimate the power of water.
  • Always wear a life jacket while paddling.
  • To minimize your exposure to bacteria in the Mad River, enjoy it during days of dry weather.

Use our Mad River water trail map to learn more about staying safe on the river.

Your water wise actions keep the Mad River healthy.

Tait Station low dam removal begins today

By Sarah Hippensteel Hall, Ph.D., manager for watershed partnerships

The project to remove the Tait Station low dam begins today. Here are the latest details on the project.

Q: Why is the Tait Station low dam being removed?
The low dam is being removed for several reasons:

  • To improve the quality of the river and make better habitat for bugs and fish.
  • To eliminate a clear and present threat to public safety for those who enjoy recreational use of the Great Miami River.
  • To avoid costly repairs that are far higher than any benefit the low dam provides.

Q: Where is the dam located?
Tait Station low dam is located in Dayton, Ohio on the Great Miami River at River Mile 76.6  just downstream of the University of Dayton Arena and the Carillon Historical Park.

Q: What are the benefits to removing the low dam?
Removing the low dam will improve the ecological conditions for aquatic life, improve river safety, reduce maintenance costs, improve river recreation access, and improve the scenic beauty of the Great Miami River.

Q: How big is the dam?
The low dam is approximately 600 feet in length. The low dam is a concrete structure with flashboards across the crest to maintain the pool level above the concrete spillway.

Tait Station low dam

 

Q: What will the river look like after the dam is removed?
Hydraulic modeling of the Great Miami River after the dam is removed shows that the water depths will be only slightly lower than current conditions. A new rock structure, called a riffle, will be created across the river channel to enhance fish habitat.

Q: Who owns the dam?
The Miami Conservancy District (MCD) owns the low dam. Tait Station was constructed around 1935 by Dayton Power and Light. The dam was originally constructed to provide cooling water to support power plant production. The power plant was decommissioned in 1983. Ownership of the low dam transferred to MCD in 1990.

Q: Does the dam provide flood protection for Dayton?
The low dam does not provide flood protection, however the low dam area is located within MCD’s flood protection area. Levees are present on both sides of the river.

Q: How much would it cost to repair the dam?
The cost estimate to repair the low dam is between $5 and $8 million.

Q: How much will it cost to remove the low dam?
The total estimate cost to remove the low dam is about $1.75 million.

Q: Who is paying for the dam to be removed?
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is fully funding the project as a mitigation solution for unavoidable stream impacts in the Great Miami River Watershed.

Q: When will the project be complete?
October of this year, depending on weather and unforeseeable conditions.

Q: Who are the project partners?
ODOT is providing project funding, design, permitting, engineering and construction. MCD is providing technical support, background data, site access, funding and support for the project. The City of Dayton, Department of Water is providing utility coordination and utility relocation. DP&L is providing utility coordination and site access.

For questions or more information contact:
Sarah Hippensteel Hall, PhD
Manager, Watershed Partnerships
shippensteel@MCDWater.org

MCD – your “go to” for recreation maps, safety and more

By Sarah Hippensteel Hall, Ph.D., manager of watershed partnerships

Spring weather has FINALLY arrived! You are probably thinking about getting outside to enjoy a bike ride on the trails or launch your kayak in the beautiful river. Before you go, did you know MCD provides maps, trail conditions, day trip recommendations, safety guidelines, and more?

We do!  We want you to have a safe and fun experience in and along our rivers. We also track river levels and keep an eye on water conditions.

Here is how we can help.

Maps

Current River Levels

  • If you want to know how high the river levels are without leaving your couch, check out these MCD graphs that show the current, past, and forecasted river levels.

Water Conditions

  • River users frequently ask me, “Is the water safe?” The answer is yes, in most cases. Read more here.

Safety Guidelines

Safe Boating Week May 19-25.

And speaking of safety, there is one simple thing you can do to help make sure your next paddling or boating adventure is a safe one – wear a life jacket!

According to the U.S. Coast Guard:

  • 80 percent of all boating deaths are due to drowning.
  • 83 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket
  • Two-thirds of drowning victims were good swimmers.

Enjoy the Great Miami River & Play It Safe!