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Published: Tuesday, 4/5/2005

Ottawa Hills to solicit bids for removal of village dam

Ottawa Hills Village Council has agreed to seek bids to tear down the village's dam on the Ottawa River near Secor Road.

The dam has been there since 1928 but has little effect on the river's flow, said Hans Gottgens, a specialist in aquatic geology at the University of Toledo.

He and others studied the possibility of any problems that could be caused by the dam's removal after residents questioned the effect on the river's flow and the potential for releasing hazardous material if the riverbed was disturbed.

Councilman Jeffrey Gibbs said the study ruled out any potential problems. He said the researchers found numerous yellow perch and other fish in the river at the university campus, but only minnows and other small fish on the village's side of the dam.

At an earlier public hearing, a representative of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said no problems were encountered after a dam on the Ottawa River in Camp Miakonda was removed about two years ago.

The dam's three gates are always open, so water flow is only slightly impeded. At high-water, it rushes over the top of the dam.

Although it does little to stem the flow, fish don't migrate through the gates or over the dam.

Its removal was first suggested in 2001 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to return the waterway to a natural flow. Village officials have said the dam may not have been constructed to control the river, but to create a pond.

Marc Thompson, village administrator, said he has seen photos used for promotional purposes of people canoeing on the pond. He said it no longer exists and likely was filled with sediment.

Mr. Thompson said he has had informal estimates of $20,000 to $25,000 to remove the dam. Mr. Gottgens said grants are available that might pay for some of the work.

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