Removing Two Dams in Cuyahoga Falls Slated to Begin in June

January 17, 2013

CUYAHOGA FALLS: Work on demolishing two dams on the Cuyahoga River to restore the river’s health will likely get under way in mid-June.

Julie Bingham, a restoration biologist with Stow-based EnviroScience, laid out the plans Wednesday to 75 people at a public meeting organized by the city of Cuyahoga Falls to update the community about the nearly $1 million project.

The meeting, held at Cuyahoga Falls Library, was designed for the project team, RiverWorks, the city and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to answer questions from residents, said Valerie Wax Carr, the city service director.

Work on the Sheraton Dam is scheduled to begin on June 17 and likely run through June 30, Bingham said.

The work will be done from a floating barge with a track hoe with a hammer attachment, she said. It will be floated in the river above the dam near Broad Boulevard.

The equipment will enable the demolition company to break up and remove one foot of the dam at a time before attacking the next one-foot layer. The dam is 50 feet wide and 9.8 feet high.

The old power house next to the dam will remain on the Sheraton Suites property and the owners want to keep it intact, she said.

The debris from that dam will be placed behind a 6-foot-high wall on the hotel side of the river above the dam. It will be landscaped to look rocky and natural.

The reflecting wall on the hotel side of the river will also be used to keep water in the reduced stream away from the power house.

Once that work is completed, the focus will shift to the LaFever Dam north of Portage Trail and behind the old Samira restaurant. This dam is about 100 feet wide and 11.1 feet high.

Its removal is scheduled from July 1 to 19, although the plans are dependent on weather and the river’s flow, Bingham said.

No barge will be used there, and the debris will be placed behind a concrete wall on the restaurant side of the river.

Just a few small waterfalls are likely to be uncovered in the pools behind the two dams, she said.

What will emerge is a narrower stream, officials said.

RiverWorks will work with the city to identify areas that may need bank stabilization after the dams are removed and the dam pools drained, Bingham said.

The removal of the two dams was first proposed five years ago by the Ohio EPA, said Mayor Don Robart.

The city is looking at the possibility of whitewater rafting and kayak trips being offered on the Cuyahoga River.

The project in December won approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Ohio EPA also gave its blessing.

Dams were removed from the Cuyahoga River in Kent in 2004 and lowered in Munroe Falls in 2005 to 2006 to boost water quality.

The money to remove the two dams came from the Ohio EPA through the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in Cuyahoga County.

Cuyahoga Falls will host a second meeting on the dam removals at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at the library, 2015 Third St.

By Bob Downing
Akron Beacon Journal staff writer

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or .