Sometimes, little things can add up to a lot.
In short, that’s the message of a research study on small dams, streams and pollution by Steve Powers, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Notre Dame’s Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI).
“Small dams, reservoirs and ponds trap water pollution, which provides an important benefit to water resources,” Powers said. “This is especially relevant in agricultural lands of the Midwest U.S., where there are lots of small, but aging, dams.”
Powers and his fellow researchers showed in detail how a small, aging dam, which was more than 100 years old and located in agricultural Wisconsin, trapped water pollutants associated with fertilizer and manure runoff. They also showed an increase in downstream transport of nutrient pollution after the dam was removed, which occurred because of concerns about the dam’s safety.