The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

March 3, 2013

IDNR to recommend removal of 2 dams

(Continued)

DANVILLE —

IDNR and city officials didn’t know whether this was part of the funding associated with the Danville dam removal project.

Prior to that, in April 2007, council members authorized the pursuit of state and federal funding for the Vermilion River/Ellsworth Park dam removal project. The dams date back to 1914.

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

According to the IDNR, the water level would change with the dam removal with upstream much more shallow and going from a lake-like environment to a river environment downstream.

A one-time study by the IDNR showed 37 fish species downstream and 23 upstream.

Fisheries should see improvements. They won’t be as concentrated, but there should be an overall improvement in the river system, according to the IDNR.

City engineer David Schnelle said the Ellsworth Park boat pad will be operational whether the dam is removed or not.

The city requested funding because if the IDNR obtained the funding directly, the funds would be receipted into the state general fund making them difficult to obtain for dam removal projects, according to the city resolution. There is no cost to the city.

In August 2007, a study on Illinois dams estimated it would cost $2.05 million to remove the Vermilion River dam behind the PSB.

The drowning of a canoeist in July 2003 prompted a Vermilion River Dam Committee, consisting of city and environmental officials, to start meeting in 2004 to look at removing or modifying the dam.

The river dam committee recommended removing the dam, but funding was the holdup.

The Vermilion River dam’s concrete continues to deteriorate, and it no longer has a productive use, Public Works Director Doug Ahrens has said.

The city installed more signs and buoys to mark the hazards.

Doing nothing with the dams is the least expensive option but doesn’t address public safety and drowning issues, officials said.

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