Rapid response of a sand-dominated river to installation and removal of a temporary run-of-the-river dam

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Costigan, K.H., C.M. Ruffing, M.D. Daniels, and J.S. Perkin. 2014. River Research and Applications 32(1):110–124.

doi: 10.1002/rra.2843


Run-of-the-river dams (RORDs) comprise the vast majority of dams on river systems and are commonly removed as a part of stream restoration strategies. Although these dams are routinely removed, few studies have documented the geomorphological responses of sand-bed rivers to the removal of RORDs. We examined the response of a large sand-bed river located in South-Central Kansas, USA, to the installation and removal of a dam that is installed annually for seasonal recreational purposes. Channel adjustments were tracked using cross-sections sampled over the course of 7 months as the dam was installed and subsequently removed. Multivariate spatiotemporal analysis revealed emergence of channel stability when the dam was in place for most cross-sections, except for those immediately adjacent to or at great distances from the dam. Our results provide an approximation for how sand-bed rivers respond to RORD construction and removal and are useful for guiding management decisions involving preservation or restoration of connectivity. Results of this study suggest that sand-bed rivers are resilient and recover quickly when transient RORDs are removed.