Neighborhood members in Summit County received an replace final evening on a multimillion-dollar mission to take away the Gorge Dam. The dam is among the final constructions nonetheless obstructing the pure circulate of the Cuyahoga River and is among the largest water high quality issues for the river.
The dam was inbuilt 1911 to provide hydro and steam powered electrical energy however by no means actually functioned as meant, as a result of unpredictability of the river. Hydro operations ceased in 1958 and the steam energy plant closed in 1991, earlier than being torn down in 2009. In 2015, the Ohio EPA started a research that outlined engineering choices and price estimates to take away the dam.
Neighborhood members got an replace on the tentative schedule of the elimination of the Gorge Dam. [Abigail Bottar / Ideastream Public Media]
Earlier than the Gorge Dam may be taken down, a disposal space for sediment trapped behind the dam must be constructed and a sediment remediation mission must happen. That mission is estimated to price $100 million, with 65% of funding coming from the Nice Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and 35% coming from the state, and is projected to start in 2024. Funding plans for this mission, the disposal web site and dam elimination are ongoing. Remaining designs and prices are anticipated by the top of this yr.
Mike Johnson is the chief of conservation for Summit Metro Parks. He mentioned he understands persons are pissed off with how lengthy this mission is taking.
Mike Johnson gave an replace on the progress of the dam elimination mission and what is going to come subsequent. [Abigail Bottar / Ideastream Public Media]
“However the actuality is that this actually isn’t taking that lengthy,” Johnson mentioned. “Issues are shifting fairly quick, and I’d say we’re in an exponential section proper now, the place issues are shifting quicker and quicker.”
Summit Metro Parks has designated 30 acres alongside Peck Highway in Akron to function the disposal space, which shall be constructed subsequent yr.
“It at present is vegetated, nevertheless it’s a fairly low-quality space. We did search for the most effective, most environmentally pleasant place we might put this,” Johnson mentioned. “That space had traditionally been abused up to now. It was formally – earlier than the parks took it over and town received it – it was a dumping space.”
Building of the disposal web site is about to start subsequent yr and can price roughly $8 million. This funding should be native, from nonfederal companions. Summit County Council President Liz Walters mentioned she’s working with the county to begin setting apart cash for this mission.
Summit County Council President Liz Walters says she’s working with the county to seek out funding for the mission. [Abigail Bottar / Ideastream Public Media]
“As you have heard already, this mission is a powerful collaboration between your native authorities, your county authorities, your state authorities and your federal authorities,” Walters mentioned. “Not usually today do you hear about all these teams working effectively collectively.”
Demolishing the dam is predicted to deliver a optimistic environmental affect to the area, in addition to a optimistic financial affect, mentioned Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters.
“We all know that Mom Nature’s free flowing, and the remainder of the river has exploded with exercise: the kayaking, the internal tubing, the mountaineering. There’s mountain climbing now on the partitions; fishing,” Mayor Walter mentioned. “All these issues are necessary. We have to open that up. The place the river comes down, flows south, turns north, that must be free flowing.”
Demolition of the dam is tentatively set for 2025 to 2026 and can price roughly $20 million. Akron is main this engineering effort, with 100% of the funding coming from the GLRI.
The coalition referred to as Free the Falls that is engaged on this mission consists of Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Summit County, FirstEnergy, the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Lake Erie Fee, Ohio, Summit Metro Parks, the College of Akron and the U.S. EPA.