Removing the dams increases boater safety and protects Danville and Vermilion County emergency personnel from hazardous rescues at the dam, officials also have said.
Removing the dams also won’t affect flooding, river flow or cause the river to dry up, officials have said.
Removal will, however, affect river depth and fishing. It will improve smallmouth bass fishing, and flathead catfish, walleye and muskie will remain, officials projected.
Other dam removals
Miller said other sites, such as the Hofmann Dam in Riverside on the Des Plaines, have already seen improved public safety where people have died in the past at the dams.
“It removes that risk …,” Miller said about allowing free passage for paddlers.
Miller said other dams have been removed or are being removed, such as on the Fox River, and they’re improving fish passage and recreational benefits too.
Wisconsin has a successful dam removal program, he added.
All have life spans and capital replacement costs, Miller said. Removal costs are lower than to rebuild a dam that no longer serves a purpose, he said.
“It’s connecting the community back to the river …” Miller said.
City employees have continued to monitor the condition of the dams and any impacts to cautionary signs.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who was then lieutenant governor, launched the Illinois Dam Safety Initiative in June 2006 to educate the public about dam safety and propose changes to make waterways safer.
Since then, legislation was passed regarding standards of signs, buoys and other ways to communicate risks to the public about dams, according to the IDNR.
Quinn in Oct. 2012 announced the removal or modification of 16 low-head dams throughout the state during the next few years.
With the city owning the Ellsworth Park and Vermilion River dams, the city council will have to approve removal of the dams.