Hazardous dam removed from Grand River

Posted at 1:03 PM, Sep 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 13:03:22-04

An 8-foot dam that was in the Grand River and in deteriorating state has been removed, despite some challenges that crews encountered.

The Lyons Dam, located in Ionia County was a high-hazard structure, a press release from the Department of Natural Resources states. The dam was completely removed this summer, restoring the natural river functions and allowing unimpeded fish movement.

The dam was a concrete covered, rock-crib strucuture. The release says it was in a deteriorated state, which prompted dam safety inspections from the MDEQ to issue an emergency order to stabilize the structure earlier this summer. However, due to the cost of the repairs, it was determined removal was more feasible than repair.

The release states that the removal of the dam was complex because of several issues, including the presence of endangered snuffbox mussels. Design changes were made to reduce the project’s footprint, and the snuffbox mussels were relocated before the project began. They will be monitored for a period of time after the completion of the project.

Demolition was also slowed when crews found a steel sheet pile wall that was not in the historical design documents.

Even with the challenges the crew and departments faced, what is now in the dam’s place is a “Newberry riffle,” which looks and functions like natural rapids, the release says.

The design includes a low-flow channel to allow for passage of canoes, kayaks and fish. During normal flow, small boats will be able to use the channel.

“We’re thrilled to finally have this structure removed from the Grand River. This river reach can now function more naturally and all species of fish can move freely through the system,” said Scott Hanshue, DNR fisheries biologist and liaison on this project. “Additionally, it means great things for canoeists and kayakers who will now have a new experience to look forward to.”