Dam Removal Project Held Up By Federal Permit Process

Two Cuyahoga River low-head dams set for removal this year may still be around in 2013 if city officials don’t soon receive a federal permit that was applied for in mid-March. The concrete dams – located near the Sheraton Suites and Samira restaurant – cannot be taken out without a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over navigable waterways. The dams are being removed to restore Cuyahoga Falls’ segment of the river so that it meets Ohio Water Quality Standards for aquatic life and habitat, and removing the dams is the path to meeting that goal.

According to one project document, dams negatively impact river systems by serving as barriers to fish migration and reduce fish habitat. They also act as sediment traps and modify water quality.

An Ohio Environmental Protection Agency project summary stated that the Cuyahoga River upstream of Cuyahoga Falls saw rapid improvements after modifications to the Kent dam in 2004 and removal of the Munroe Falls dam in 2008.

Successful completion of those projects showed improvement in biological water quality, habitat and elimination of low-dissolved oxygen concentrations in the dam pools.

The two dams in Cuyahoga Falls will be removed as one project, according to the Ohio EPA. Adjoining structures will be stabilized to prevent structural failure due to the change in water pressures, velocities and levels associated with dam removal.