Partnership Working To Take Down Cuyahoga Falls Gorge Dam In 2023

The Gorge Dam or "Ohio Edison Dam" on the Cuyahoga between Akron and Cuyahoga Falls
The 420 foot Gorge Dam or "Ohio Edison Dam" on the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cuyahoga Falls [Mark Urycki ideastream]
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The question looming over the removal of the 100-year-old Gorge Dam on the Cuyahoga River is no longer “if” it’ll happen but “when.” 

A packed hall at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium Tuesday night heard plans for moving forward from a coalition of local, state, and federal organizations involved in the effort.

For decades, silt has been building up behind the dam, a mile south of downtown Cuyahoga Falls.

Mark Loomis of the U.S. EPA says they will use the Great Lakes Legacy Act to pay for 65 percent of the cost of pumping out the silt and piping it downstream along the banks of the river.

The city of Akron will apply for a separate grant aimed at tearing down the 60 foot tall structure.

“We want the designs to happen in parallel,” said Loomis. “We need the design of how to remove the dam structure to occur at the same time as the contaminated sediment remediation. So it’s going to be orchestrated carefully. It also gives us a little flexibility on money because money is the big factor here.”

The total cost is estimated at $70 million.

A standing room only crowd came to hear the latest on the dam from Summit Metroparks, U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA [Mark Urycki / ideastream]

Julie Schucker with the design company Jacobs, says the silt will be stored in bags at the nearby Cascade Park.

“They’ll just get stacked like giant sausages,” explained Schucker. “Once they’re completely de-watered then they’ll be able to be covered up. And it’ll probably be - I think our estimate is about 30 acres of an area about 10 feet high.”

And once the dam is removed, says the Ohio EPA’s Bill Zawiski, the original “Great Falls” that the city was named after may be revealed.

“Depending on what elevations you look at, there’s like half of the great falls that may still be buried by the dam,” said Zawiski. what’s it going to look like? That’s the box of chocolates. Who knows?” 

Daniel Markowitz of Arcadis design co. points to river bottom bedrock with silt (yellow) cover.  [Mark Urycki /Ideastream]

Mapping of the river bedrock showed a number of large jagged spikes of rock . A computer analysis of the river predicts the height of the dam pool will drop 50 feet after the dam is gone.     

The silt could start to be pumped out in 2022 with dam removal occurring the following year.

More Information on project.

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