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Officials launch sediment study for Gorge Dam removal

September 13, 2018

Officials launch sediment study for Gorge Dam removal

AKRON, Ohio - Officials looking to remove the Gorge Dam have moved the project another step closer to reality.

As part of phase 2 of the four-part project, the U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA have hired CH2M, a Colorado-based engineering firm, to study what needs done before years of sediment that’s accumulated behind the dam can be removed.

A U.S. EPA study, conducted between 2009 and 2011, concluded the 832,000 cubic yards of sediment behind the dam can’t be discharged downstream but it can be removed without requiring special disposal.

Officials have proposed moving the sediment to a site not far from the dam, on Cuyahoga Street in Akron. As part of its work, CH2M will evaluate whether that site is suitable for accepting the sediment, said Summit Metro Parks Watershed Specialist Elaine Marsh.

In 2017, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded the city of Akron a $750,000 grant, which officials hope can be used as match money to remove the sediment.

“The main thing is, the U.S. EPA and local stakeholders are going to be a terrific team and lots of good information will be coming out of this,” Marsh said.

Other project stakeholders include Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Summit Metro Parks and FirstEnergy. A grassroots local group, Friends of the Crooked River, is also dedicated to bringing the dam down to improve water quality and open the river for water recreation for surrounding communities.

In March, stakeholders hired Netherlands-based Arcadis Design and Consultancy to conduct a hydrological study to determine what affect dam removal would have on structures such as bridges and properties upstream of the Cuyahoga River. That study is ongoing.

An estimated $70 million will be needed to remove the 57-foot-high, 440-foot-wide chunk of concrete, which has served no purpose since the early 1990s. The Gorge Dam straddles the border of North Akron and Cuyahoga Falls in the Gorge Metro Park and is the last dam standing in a line of dams from Kent to Cuyahoga Falls.

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