The effects of mill dams on instantaneous suspended sediment yield: Baltimore County, Maryland


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Towson University. Environmental Science and Studies Program

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The construction and demise of historic mill dams has recently been viewed as an important cause of stream channel degradation and increased sediment loads. When intact, mill dams trapped agricultural sediments, which were subsequently released after the dams breached or were removed. In this project, I documented the locations of 164 former mill sites in Baltimore County using historic maps, LiDAR data, and field visits. Additionally, I compared instantaneous suspended sediment yields between a group of previously dammed watersheds and a similar group of undammed watersheds. It was determined that both groups transported similar, relatively high amounts of sediment, which may be attributable to the small range of discharges sampled during this one-year study, or that factors other than the presence of mill sediments, such as upland soil erosion, may be responsible. Future work is needed to investigate this comparison over a longer time period, and to identify sources of sediment.