- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (AP) - The federal government has agreed to help cover the bulk of the costs associated with removing a 57-foot-high dam along the Cuyahoga River in northeast Ohio, state regulators said last week.

Bill Zawiski of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced on Tuesday that about 65 percent of the $70 million cost to demolish Gorge Dam and remove sediment behind it will come from a federal Great Lakes cleanup fund, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

The dam - built between 1911 and 1912 - connects Akron to Cuyahoga Falls and once generated electricity for trolley cars. Dams are being removed around the country to restore rivers to their original state and to improve water quality.

Removing the dam, which is scheduled to be completed in 2019, would help mark the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire in Cleveland, which Zawiski said helped lead to the passage of the federal Clean Water Act.

Removing Gorge Dam and another dam in Cuyahoga Valley National Park would create 60 miles of a free-flowing and healthier Cuyahoga River, Zawiski said.

More than 800,000 cubic yards of sediment must be removed before the dam can come down. Zawiski said he hopes plans will be finalized on sediment removal sometime this year. Most of the money will be spent on sediment removal. Great Lakes cleanup funds will pay for around $45 million of the project cost with the state and local partners covering the balance of around $25 million.

Elaine Marsh, a spokeswoman for Friends of the Crooked River, a group devoted to the Cuyahoga River, is pleased the project is moving forward.

“In the beginning, we weren’t sure it would ever happen,” she said. “It’s almost surreal, but we are serenely happy.”


Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, https://www.ohio.com

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