Crews are preparing to remove a 90-year-old dam in southwestern Michigan to help restore habitat for native fish.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and other organizations will soon begin the $4 million project to remove the Alcott Street dam in Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported .The dam, which impounds Bryant Mill Pond on Portage Creek, was built in 1927, but no longer has a function. Instead, it prevents fish migration and holds contaminated sediment in place.
The dam removal is the highest priority project identified, said Linda Williams, a contaminant specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Its removal will improve habitat connectivity between the two sides of the dam and give fish more space, Williams said.
Water will slowly be drawn from the dam to prevent a surge that would damage the creak. The dam is connected to a bridge, so contractors and the city of Kalamazoo will work carefully to separate the two.
Crews will then excavate contaminated material and stabilize the stream. Native vegetation and fish habitats will be added to restore the wetland.
Work is expected to be completed by the end of summer.
Officials have been working on the project for a long time, but funding has been hard to secure, said Mark DuCharme, a DEQ incident management specialist. The Natural Resource Damage Trustee Council will cover half of the project's cost.