Vandals open Eaton Rapids dam

Posted at 7:10 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 07:47:13-04

The sound of water flowing through the Grand River in Eaton Rapids was noise many hadn't heard in a while.

Since there hasn't been enough rain for the rapids so they've been dry and quiet.

That was until Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

"We were losing an uncontrolled flow of water that was probably 3 or 4 times the normal daily flow rate," Nathan Foote said.

The oak boards that block the river from rushing out of both the Smithville and State Street dams were gone.

"Whoever did this made no plan for stopping the water once this vandalism was done and the opening of the gate," Foote said. "It was given no thought."

So he and his neighbors stopped it themselves, "we just wanted to plug up the hole and stop this uncontrolled release."

Foote doesn't know who moved the blocks but tells me he thinks it has something to do with the controversy surrounding the new rapids.

The DNR tells us that the owners of the dams haven't been complying with an agreement that would allow a constant amount of water to flow through the dams.

"I believe they were trying to do something beneficial," Foote said. "They thought they were doing the right thing. I don't think it was strictly vandalism."

Foote has his theory, but city officials want the facts.

"It seems a little more sophisticated than what kids being vandals would do and it seems more like somebody with a purpose," said City Manager Jon Stoppels.

He's trying to figure out what happened.

"We don't know what their motivation was because again the logistics of what they did really doesn't make a whole lot of sense," Stoppels said.

Since the river has been mostly dry Stoppels says the flow of water didn't cause any damage.

But it did spark an investigation, "we're gonna be actively keeping an eye on the dam," Nathan Foote said.