Removing small dam near Detroit yields big results

Project Summary: Removing a small dam in the Rouge River, near Detroit, has restored fish passage and reconnected the lower river to the larger Great Lakes ecosystem.

 

Project name: Wayne Road Dam Removal and Rouge River Restoration.

Location: Wayne, Michigan (near Detroit).

Description: The Rouge River, which flows through a heavily industrialized area of metropolitan Detroit, is one of the largest and most damaged rivers in Michigan. Decades of toxic discharges and sewer overflows hurt water quality and fish populations in the river, and dams fractured the sprawling Rouge River ecosystem into a series of smaller, ecologically dysfunctional river segments. One of those dams was located in the city of Wayne, near Detroit. Built in the early 1900s to provide water for firefighting, the 3-foot-high dam blocked fish passage, damaged fish and wildlife habitat and isolated parts of the river and its tributaries from the lower Rouge River, the Detroit River and the rest of the Great Lakes. The dam and subsequent land use activities altered the river’s flow, harmed water quality and aquatic life in that stretch of the Rouge. Removing the dam connected 11 miles of the river and 110 miles of tributaries to the lower Rouge and the rest of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Workers also restored the river’s natural channel, planted vegetation along the restored river banks and created new fish and wildlife habitat.

 

These photos show the Rouge River when the dam was in place (above), and after it was removed. (Alliance of Rouge Communities photo)

The Rouge River when the dam was in place. Photo courtesy of the Alliance of Rouge Communities.

Approximate cost of project: $1,033,536, most of which was provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Resource challenges addressed: Fish passage, loss of fish and wildlife habitat, ecosystem fragmentation and water quality.

Key partners (public and private): Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,

Wayne Road after the dam was removed. Photo courtesy of the Alliance of Rouge Communities.

Wayne Road after the dam was removed. Photo courtesy of the Alliance of Rouge Communities.

Alliance of Rouge Communities, Friends of the Rouge, City of Wayne, Wayne County and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Types of jobs created: Civil and environmental engineers, biologists, ecologists, landscape engineers, heavy equipment operators and general laborers.

Results and accomplishments: Removing the dam reconnected 11 miles of the main stem of Rouge River and 110 miles of the river’s tributaries to the Great Lakes. Fish in the lower Rouge are now migrating further upstream and a greater diversity of fish has been noted in the river.

Web site: http://bit.ly/1eJ1BjV

Originally Published: December 2, 2013

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