Flood of dam
removals in works
GARY WISBY ENVIRONMENT REPORTER
Chicago Sun Times
been many years since a dam was removed from a river in
the Chicago area.
all of a sudden, five of the structures are set to be
removals are for every reason from fish health to boater
safety to flood control.
why so many now?
kind of just the way it happened," said Steve Pescitelli,
a stream biologist for the Illinois Natural Resources
removal is a long process requiring study. One of the
dams, the Hoffman Dam on the Des Plaines River, has been
eyed since 1997.
first dam set to come out, in September, is the South
Batavia Dam on the Fox River.
Monday, three fishermen worked the rippling waters just
below the dam, two in waders and one sitting on the west
we walked across, I doubt our wallets would get wet,"
said John Duerr, who runs the Kane County Forest Preserve
the dam, the water is less fish-friendly--it's still,
warmer, about 2-1/2 feet deep and oxygen-poor. Concrete
pillars that once supported a footbridge block debris,
worsening the threat of flooding during storms.
dam "stacks" water back half a mile. Its removal
will create islands and make way for shallow, fast-moving
water like below the structure, Duerr said.
87 years ago, the dam stored cooling water for the Chicago-Aurora
Electric Generation plant. The coal-fired facility closed
in the 1930s.
dam removal will cost $750,000 to $1 million. Funding
is from the Empress Casino, which is paying $500,000 a
year for 12 years because its gangway crosses a forest
preserve district bike path.
set to come out is the Hoffman Dam, the largest dam on
the Des Plaines River. Water below it churns up a powerful
"keeper wave" that grabs and turns over boats
that come too close, rolling them like a log. Several
deaths have resulted.
is to start this winter at Hoffman, and the next dam upstream,
the Armitage Avenue Dam, and the next one downstream,
the Fairbanks Road Dam. All three block the movement of
fish and canoeists. Combined cost, with money from county,
state and federal sources, is $2.5 million to $3 million.
fifth doomed dam is the YWCA Dam on Brewster Creek, a
Fox tributary, set for removal in late fall at a cost