March& April 2012
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Dam Removal and Restoration at Toledo Botanical Garden

TMACOG’s Maumee River Coordinator Matt Horvat is working with the Toledo Botanical Garden on a project to address dams and silted-in ponds in the park. Horvat is the contract coordinator for the project.

About 30 years ago, two ponds were created by building concrete low head dams to impound water flowing through Hill Ditch. However, the ponds formed behind the dams began to fill with silt. “It’s not a self-sustaining water system,” says Horvat. “By taking out the dams, we can restore a natural flow of water.” Executive Director of the Toledo Botanical Garden Karen Ranney Wolkins said, “The ecosystem is just not healthy. The water quality is poor, the vegetation and fish life are not healthy. We see a big benefit to improving the pond areas.”

The initial design plans will allow one pond to revert to a wetland environment and rehab the other as a healthier body of water. Hill Ditch, which is a tributary of the Ottawa River, will be restored to flow more naturally. The rehabilitation will give the park a new space to showcase native, water-loving plants, and also create access to the water for visitors.

The project is currently in the design and engineering phase. Dam removal and construction will start in the fall of 2012. The plan is to do the earthmoving work during the winter months to minimize disruption during the growing season. When construction is complete, there will be a big volunteer effort to install the selected plants and other features. “We envision a native area, but with deliberate planting, not highly manicured,” said Ranney Wolkins. “It will be a great demonstrative opportunity.”

The Toledo Botanical Gardens project is funded by a 319 grant from the Ohio EPA. The design and engineering firm is Davey Resource Group.


One of 2 identical dams on the Toledo botanical gardens site. 
The dams, which block fish passage, will be reduced and incorporated into riffles, small rapids in the watercourse.


A view of the lower lake at Toledo Botanical Garden from the footbridge.  This lake has become full of sediment since being constructed 30 years ago.  Geese can be seen walking across it in some places because it has become so shallow.  The lake will be reshaped and deepened and separated from the  stream, Hill Ditch.  The free flowing stream is proposed to be constructed to the left side of this photo.


The upper lake at Toledo Botanical garden is heavily silted in and the
banks are eroding.  This area may be restored to a free flowing stream with adjacent wetlands to hold floodwaters during high flows.


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