Rivers recover as Michigan steps up pace of dam removals

The state of Michigan is making strides in restoring rivers by removing obsolete and dangerous dams. I wrote about the issue for an online magazine called Bridge. You can read the article here.

There are about 2,500 dams in Michigan and the vast majority will exceed their expected lifespan of 50 years by the year 2030. Removing obsolete dams is one of the quickest ways to restore natural conditions in a river. Dams alter water temperatures, disrupt the natural movement of sediment, fish and other aquatic life, and effectively bisect river ecosystems.

The Paw Paw River in southern Michigan was set free when the obsolete Watervliet Dam was removed. (Environmental Consulting & Technology photo)

The Paw Paw River in southern Michigan was set free when the obsolete Watervliet Dam was removed. (Environmental Consulting & Technology photo)Michigan has about 2,500 dams and most will exceed the average lifespan of a dam (50 years) by 2030. Removing an obsolete dam is one of the quickest ways to restore a river.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources deserves credit for following the lead of other states, such as Wisconsin, that have made dam removal an integral part of river restoration programs.

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