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DNR to recommend removing 2 Danville dams

Published: Sunday, March 3, 2013 1:00 p.m. CST

DANVILLE (AP) — The state of Illinois soon plans to make public a study recommending the long-discussed removal of two eastern Illinois dams where at least a half-dozen people have died in recent decades, a newspaper reported Sunday.

IDNR Director Marc Miller in coming weeks will provide to Danville city leaders recommendations for removing the Ellsworth Park and Vermilion River dams, according to the (Danville) Commercial-News (http://bit.ly/WBQ0ii).

Removal of the Vermilion River dam has been bandied about for years, as it is the site of three deaths in the past two decades, the last one involving a canoeist in 2003. Four drownings, including three since the early 1970s, have happened at the Ellsworth Park dam.

Miller said removing the dams will produce a free-flowing river that will improve water quality and allow fish to migrate downstream, improving spawning conditions.

Miller said there's $3 million in the state's capital funding for removing the dams this year. A 2007 study of Illinois dams estimated it would cost $2 million to remove the Vermilion River dam, which Danville Public Works Director Doug Ahrens has said is deteriorating.

City leaders long have wanted the dams removed, insisting the structures serve little function and are dangerous to canoeists and to emergency responders that handle hazardous rescues. The dams also add to the city's maintenance costs.

Even if the state DNR suggests that the two Danville dams be removed, such a move would require that city council's approval.

"It is their dam and we're here to assist the city," Miller said.

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Information from: Commercial-News, http://www.dancomnews.com

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