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Published: Wednesday, 3/9/2005

Ottawa Hills to discuss removal of dam


The possible removal of the dam on the Ottawa River in Ottawa Hills will be the subject of a public hearing set for March 22 at 7:30 p.m. in village council chambers.

Removal of the structure has been under consideration since 2001 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggested it as a means of returning the waterway to its natural flow.

Officials said the dam's removal could allow more fish to move upstream, create nurseries for small fish and establish more vegetation for birds and small animals.

Village residents voiced concern about the potential aftermath of a dam removal, including flooding, the possibility of contaminants being released, and a possibly altered watercourse.

A study undertaken with a $40,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has reported that those problems are unlikely.

Marc Thompson, village administrator, said that even with assurances that removal shouldn't lead to negative effects, the council wants to hear what villagers think about removing the long-standing dam near Secor Road.

He added that the cost of removal will also be a factor in council's decision on whether or not to remove the dam. There are no estimates available for how much removal might cost, but Mr. Thompson noted that the dam is essentially a wall, rather than a dam with mechanisms to control the flow of the water.

Even if council determines the dam should be removed, Mr. Thompson said it will likely take some time because the action will have to be approved by a will have to be approved by a number of agencies.

The dam, which was constructed in 1928, may have not been designed to control flood waters, but to create a pond in the village.

Mr. Thompson said there are old photographs which were used to promote living in the village, which show people canoeing on a pond formed behind the dam.

The pond is gone and likely filled in with sediment over time.

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