Great Lakes Environmental Directory Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes grants exotic species water pollution water export drilling environment Great Lakes pollution Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario ecology Great Lakes issues wetlands Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes watershed water quality exotic species Great Lakes grants water pollution water export oil gas drilling environment environmental Great Lakes pollution Lake Superior Lake Michigan Lake Huron Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes ecology Great Lakes issues Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Resources Great Lakes activist Great Lakes environmental organizations Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat air pollution alien species threatened rare endangered species ecological Great Lakes information Success Stories Great Lakes Directory Home/News Great Lakes Calendar Great Lakes jobs/volunteering Search Great Lakes Organizations Take Action! Contact Us Resources/Links Great Lakes Issues Great Lakes News Article About Us Networking Services

Great Lakes Article:

Flood of dam removals in works

July 23, 2002


Chicago Sun Times

It's been many years since a dam was removed from a river in the Chicago area.

Now, all of a sudden, five of the structures are set to be taken out.

The removals are for every reason from fish health to boater safety to flood control.

But why so many now?

"It's kind of just the way it happened," said Steve Pescitelli, a stream biologist for the Illinois Natural Resources Department.

Dam removal is a long process requiring study. One of the dams, the Hoffman Dam on the Des Plaines River, has been eyed since 1997.

The first dam set to come out, in September, is the South Batavia Dam on the Fox River.

On Monday, three fishermen worked the rippling waters just below the dam, two in waders and one sitting on the west bank.

"If we walked across, I doubt our wallets would get wet," said John Duerr, who runs the Kane County Forest Preserve District.

Above 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.

The 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.

Built 87 years ago, the dam stored cooling water for the Chicago-Aurora Electric Generation plant. The coal-fired facility closed in the 1930s.

The 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.

Also 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.

Work 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.

The fifth doomed dam is the YWCA Dam on Brewster Creek, a Fox tributary, set for removal in late fall at a cost of $887,000.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Great Lakes environmental information

Return to Great Lakes Directory Home/ Site Map