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National group lists Rodman Dam as one to watch in 2022

American Rivers believes there should be a plan to remove the Rodman Dam because of environmental impacts

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — A national group just listed the Rodman Dam in Putnam County as one dam to pay attention to this year.

It's future could affect the St. Johns River all the way to Jacksonville. 

The Rodman Dam was built in 1968, part of a canal planned across Florida, but the Cross Florida Barge Canal was never finished. Meanwhile the dam "has actually never served the purpose for which it was built," Jessie Thomas-Blate said.

She is with American Rivers, a national environmental organization that is again calling out the Rodman Dam. 

"There are not necessarily plans to remove it, but we think there should be," Thomas-Blate said. 

American Rivers issued a report called Free Rivers: The State of Dam Removal in the United States last week. It lists the Rodman Dam as one to watch in 2022. 

"It wiped out habitat for some, threatened and endangered species," Thomas-Blate explained about the effects of the dam's construction. "It impacted the wetlands and forests of the area. It blocked migration for fish coming up and down the river."

That river is the Ocklawaha that connects with the St. Johns River.

American Rivers supports the notion that the Rodman Dam chokes the Ocklawaha River, as well as blocks the St. Johns River from getting fresh water from 20 springs. All of that affects water quality all the way up to Jacksonville.

Supporters of the removing the Rodman Dam, such as the St. Johns Riverkeeper, says more fresh water would reduce algae blooms, help manatees and boost fish diversity.

However, there are some who want the Rodman Dam to stay put, as well as the reservoir it created. People come to bass fish from around the world near the dam, and that has an impact on the area’s economy.

While removing a dam sounds monumental, Thomas-Blate nodded and said, "It does happen!"

Hundreds of dams have been removed in the last few years in the U.S. in order to restore rivers to their natural state. Biden’s infrastructure bill would help pay for restoration of waterways. 

It up to the State of Florida to determine Rodman Dam’s fate.


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