The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 14, 2013

City officials receive dam report

BY JENNIFER BAILEY
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — The future of the Vermilion River and Ellsworth Park dams will be determined soon.

City officials have received the Illinois Department of Natural Resources recommendation for removals as part of a full report explaining the recommendations and studies that have been performed.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said Wednesday he and his staff are reading the report.

Eisenhauer said he’s not read enough of the report yet to comment on costs and other parts.

“We will have a meeting when we all get through the report,” Eisenhauer said.

IDNR Director Marc Miller has said the report has the recommendations of a complete removal of the Ellsworth Park dam and complete notching of the Vermilion River dam. The buttresses would be left there for the Vermilion River dam behind the Public Safety Building, with the dam face being removed. The dams date to 1914.

Other options looked at for the dams: partial removal, stepped spillway and rock ramp alternatives.

City officials want the dams removed because of the drowning deaths that have occurred there, and the potential danger they create for emergency responders.

The IDNR has determined the dams dangerous and, through the state, has earmarked $3 million for their removal.

Run-of-river dams are those that span the entire width of a river channel and water continuously flows over the crest of the dam. The drop at the dam crest, and the often dangerous currents downstream, contribute to hazardous conditions for river users and pedestrians.

Miller said there is money in the state’s capital funding for the removal of the dams in Danville this year.

“There will be a free-flowing river through this section that will allow the migration of fish downstream,” Miller said. “It will be healthy for all species.”

Miller said removing the dams will allow fish to move up about 175 miles of stream.

Opponents of the dam removals disagree.

They don’t want to see the Vermilion River and Ellsworth Park dams removed, but have other alternatives looked at more closely. They say the depth of the water and fish supplies will suffer.