Corps of Engineers calling for input on dam removal project

The dams were built more than half a century ago and experts have determined they've overreached their life expectancies.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking for the public's input on the Boardman River Dam Project.

Thursday night, they held an open house, laying out the plans for the removal of the Boardman and Sabin dams.

The Corps of Engineers released a study that suggests there won't be any significant environmental impacts from removing the remaining dams, but many homeowners in the area are wary due to the massive breach and flooding that occurred with the removal of the brown bridge dam.

â??The recommendations that we have put forth are to remove the Boardman Dam, remove the Sabin Dam and make some modifications to the Union Street Dam,â?? explained Carl Platz, the Corps project manager.

Not everybody is on board with the Boardman River Dams Ecosystem Restoration Project.

Edwin Martel has been opposing the project since it started more than nine years ago.

â??When their intent became to get rid of the dam, that ownership reverted back to the owner and they had that from the public,â?? said Martel.

Over the years, engineering and biological experts have weighed in, looking at the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the decision.

â??One of the things we don't want to lose is that four years of very extensive and intensive looks at the pros and cons of dam removal and the decision,â?? said Todd Kalish, Lake Michigan Basin Coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources.

The implementation team has also held monthly public meetings for people to come and express their concerns.

â??This community initiated one of the most comprehensive public involvement processes to assess the pros and cons of dam removal dam modification and dam retention that has ever been conducted in this area,â?? said Kalish.

At the open house Thursday night, several people voiced concerns over discarding a hydropower energy source.

â??The potential there for renewable energy seems like it really needs to be checked into more,â?? said Andrew Peterson from Northport.

The dams were built more than half a century ago and experts have determined they've overreached their life expectancies.

â??It is not economically beneficial to continue operating these dams as hydropower,â?? said Kalish.

Officials say a different approach will be used to remove the remaining dams to prevent another flooding emergency.

They hope to have the entire project finished by 2017.

The Boardman River Dam Project is currently at the center of lawsuits filed by residents who say the removal of the dams has made their property vulnerable to floods.