Guest Column: Take action: Support dam removal on the Vermilion River

By Prairie Rivers Network

DANVILLE, Ill. — April 30, the City of Danville will hold an informational open house regarding the proposed removal of two low-head dams in the Vermilion River system. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will present removal alternatives from their most recent planning study, and also discuss how removal will benefit fish populations. Following the presentations, representatives from the city and Department of Natural Resources will be available to answer questions and take comments.

For nearly a decade, the City of Danville has sought to modify or remove the dams to improve public safety and avoid the costs associated with maintaining structures built around the turn of the century (last century, that is). The removals will not only improve public safety, but will also enhance stream quality.

Dams of any size can negatively impact water quality and aquatic habitat by altering flow, water temperature, oxygen levels and sediment transport. They can also act as a barrier to fish passage and the migration of other sensitive species, like freshwater mussels. The proposed removals will restore a significant portion of the river to a free-flowing condition, allowing fish and other aquatic organisms to access an additional 175 stream miles of high-quality spawning habitat.

We recognize the benefits to the local community and to the environment; however, the most limiting factor has been funding. As part of a $31 billion capital construction program, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) recently announced the Illinois Dam Removal Initiative to improve the health and safety of Illinois waterways by removing defunct dams throughout the state. We have the dedicated resources, so the time is now!

Before moving forward with the project, the Danville City Council must approve the plan to remove the dams. Please show your support for a more natural Vermilion River system by attending the meeting at the end of the month and by signing our petition (online at today!

The City of Danville Dam Removal Open House will be from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 30, at David S. Palmer Arena, 100 W. Main St., Danville, Ill.

Posted April 24, 2013

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