The Woodland Dam is currently preventing many species of fish from reaching the upper parts of Cobbs Creek. Philadelphia Water and the Army Corps are planning to remove it. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Residents are invited to join staff from Philadelphia Water and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Cobbs Creek Environmental Education Center tomorrow at 6 p.m. to learn about an exciting new project that will open up miles of the Cobbs to fish like the blueback herring, a historically important migratory species whose habitat has been limited by dams across the region.
The focus of the meeting will be the partial removal of the Woodland Dam, the first dam to block fish travelling up Darby-Cobbs Creek from the Delaware River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District and Philadelphia Water will have representatives on hand to answer any questions about the plan. (For those who cannot make it, the public is invited to comment on the proposal by May 9, 2016.)
Completing this project will provide access to approximately four miles of habitat for migratory fish species, an important part of local stream habitats that provides food for other wildlife and helps spread freshwater mussels that clean water and stabilize stream beds.
Patrick Perhosky, an engineer with Philadelphia Water’s Ecological Restoration Group, said stream surveys conducted by department biologists found 43 different types of fish in the Cobbs before the Woodland Dam. Above the dam? Biologists found just 19 types of fish, making the upper reaches of the creek far less biologically diverse.
“The most effective method of restoring fish passage is to remove the stream impediment and restore the channel using natural channel design,” Perhosky said.
Removal of the Woodland Dam is part of ongoing efforts to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in the Darby-Cobbs Watershed. A number of Green City, Clean Waters projects are planned to help reduce the impact of stormwater runoff and sewer overflows, and streambank restoration was recently completed in several areas.
More from the Army Corps on the Woodland Dam project:
The project team investigated several alternatives to reestablish fish passage along Cobbs Creek, and based on environmental impacts, costs, design aspects, and accomplishing project goals, the partial removal of the Woodland Dam emerged as the recommended plan.
The property is owned by the City of Philadelphia and managed by the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for design and construction of the project, while the non-federal sponsor, the Philadelphia Water Department, will be responsible for any future maintenance of the project.
You can download the Environmental Assessment report here. The public meeting will be held at the Cobbs Creek Environmental Education Center, 700 Cobbs Creek Parkway (63rd & Catharine Streets). Comments can be emailed to PDPA-NAP@USACE.ARMY.MIL or sent in writing to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Planning Division, 100 Penn Square E. Philadelphia PA 19107.