Dam removal improves water quality

fish habitat in urban stream

Federal Great Lakes restoration funds removed an old dam from Euclid Creek, which allowed for the return of fish and other aquatic life to the waterway. The project increased recreational fishing opportunities and improved water quality, helping the creek to meet water quality standards.


The Euclid Creek East Branch Dam was located on the East Branch of Euclid Creek, a heavily industrialized tributary to Lake Erie that is affected by urban runoff and habitat degradation. The project removed a low-head dam that was constructed in the early 1930s to impound water for swimming at a YMCA camp. The original pool behind the dam was completely filled with sediment and the dam no longer served any purpose. The structure was an impediment to fish migration upstream from the main branch of Euclid Creek. The East Branch Dam in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, was removed in December 2010. The project restored the natural stream flow to a portion of Euclid Creek for the first time in 80 years. The dam was the first of six targeted for removal as part of a watershed restoration plan.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Poor water quality
  • Blocked fish passage
  • Blocked natural habitat


Students learn about fish passage

A small dam, like the one pictured above, used to prevent fish from swimming upstream in Euclid Creek. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Results and Accomplishments

Federal support paved the way for the successful removal of the Euclid Creek dam. Unfortunately, there are countless communities around the region which continue to struggle with drinking water restrictions, beach closings, fish consumption advisories, depressed property values and other impacts from unhealthy lakes. That is why it is essential for the U.S. Congress and the White House to support federal programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. If we cut funding now, it will only cost more later because all of these projects will only get harder and more expensive the longer we wait.