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Keywords:

  • dams;
  • dam removal;
  • channel evolution model

[1] We examined channel response following the removal of low-head dams on two low-gradient, fine- to coarse-grained rivers in southern Wisconsin. Following removal, channels eroded large quantities of fine sediment, resulting in deposition 3–5 km downstream. At one site (Baraboo River), upstream changes were rapid and included bed degradation, minimal bank erosion, and sediment deposition on channel margins and new floodplain. Sand was transported through the former impoundment and temporarily deposited downstream. At the second site (Koshkonong River), head-cut migration governed channel adjustments. A deep, narrow channel formed downstream of the head-cut, with negligible changes upstream of the head-cut. Fluvial changes were summarized in a conceptual channel evolution model that highlighted (1) similarities between adjustments associated with dam removal and other events that lower channel base-level, and (2) the role of reservoir sediment characteristics (particle size, cohesion) in controlling the rates and mechanisms of sediment movement and channel adjustment.