News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Greater Akron Chamber

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment


Exposing some Cuyahoga falls
Two dams to be removed from the Cuyahoga River downtown
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
The upstream dam at Samira's restaurant, sometimes called the "powerhouse dam."
Courtesy of urycki
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

The City of Cuyahoga Falls is celebrating its bicentennial this year and officials are hoping to uncover the very reason for their existence and their name. The big double falls of the Cuyahoga River that used to attract tourists have been underwater for almost 100 years.  And they will remain so.  But WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports city officials hope to begin removing two dams downtown this autumn to reveal some other natural falls.

Audio story

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (7:11)


(Click image for larger view.)

When Garrison Keillor hosted a Prairie Home Companion at Blossom Music Center in 2005, he thought Cuyahoga Falls looked more like a rapids. Three dams on the river even out the flow through the city.   


The Piatto Novo restaurant just out over the river from the Sheraton Suites Hotel. 

The large 25-foot drop occurs downstream somewhere,  close to the Ohio Edison or Gorge dam. That dam is likely to remain for a few years, but the Ohio EPA asked the city to knock down two smaller dams in the city’s downtown. The Environmental Supervisor for the Division of Surface Water in the EPA’s northeast district office, Bill Zawiski, says they’ve already removed dams on the Cuyahoga River in Kent and Munroe Falls.

“We don’t have the legal authority to order the dams to be taken out so we work with communities to say, ‘Is this an idea you guys are willing to embrace for water-quality improvements?’ And if they are, then we work with them to obtain funding and go through the permitting process.”

The Ohio EPA is funding both dam removals in Cuyahoga Falls.

Healthier water without dams
Even though the falling water from a dam aerates the water, which is good, the water backing up behind the dam, an impoundment, loses oxygen.

“It stratifies, so depth-wise, that near the bottom will have low oxygen. And the fish that we like to see in a healthy stream -- the darters and minnow species – will not live in an impounded section of water.”

Zawiski said they saw immediate improvement in water quality after removing dams in Kent and Munroe Falls, upstream of Cuyahoga Falls.  He says both bugs and fish are doing better. And there are other advantages to removing dams.  Zawiski say the riverbed is bedrock and it has enough drops in it to provide for good white-water kayaking.

 “What we’re going to see is an actual class 4 or class 5 rapids whitewater rapids through this section. The kayakers are going to really take advantage.”

 

For $1 million, contractors will bring in jack-hammers and slowly notch away the lower falls, near the Sheraton Hotel, first. That will lower the water, exposing more of the bedrock between the two locations. They have to be very careful not to damage the adjacent buildings. Then the jackhammers will crawl up the river to the powerhouse dam next to Samira’s restaurant. 

One risk is stirring up sediments that contain heavy metals, but Zawiski says tests have shown little danger. But downstream at the big Gorge Dam, is a huge amount of dangerous sediment. The Gorge dam or "Ohio Edison" dam backed water up near the old Ohio Edison generating plant.  One area business wanted to install hydro-electrical generators there but environmentalists and kayakers opposed the proposal. 

“There’s over 800 thousand cubic yards of sediment behind that pool that needs to be managed. That’s not something we will let move down through the national park.”   

 


 

The EPA is asking the federal government to further study how that sediment can be removed.  But Zawiski says someday the big dam will be removed. If that happens, the big falls that gave this city its name will again be visible.

City officials are now awaiting final approval from the Army Corps of Engineers so they can remove the two smaller downtown dams this autumn.  If it comes too late and water levels rise too much, they will hold off till next spring or summer.

Listener Comments:

I, for one, was mystified when I heard that the long-obsolete Ohio Edison Dam was being filled with concrete and have always been curious about why it was done, unless it was in danger of collapse. Strengthening something that it would be logical to remove in the near future didn't make a lot of sense to me.


Posted by: David Jameson (Tallmadge, Ohio) on March 28, 2014 1:03AM
Is it within the realm of possibility to have all the toxic sediment and all the dams removed within ten to fifteen years? I, for one, would like to see the falls as they once were and should be again. Our generation has much grievance with which to CURSE the generations that preceded us for denying us the pleasure of seeing natural wonders like Cuyahoga Falls and indeed a truly clean, pristine Lake Erie. Could we dare to hope for genetic engineering to bring back extinct species such as the Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet and the Great Auk? In the meantime I think that we can more easily achieve a clean, damless Cuyahoga River which everyone thinks of even now as "the one that catches fire". Prove them wrong, people......


Posted by: David Stear (San Diego) on November 7, 2012 7:11AM
Good story, I had no idea that a resturant existed with that view.
Also, very impressive use of left and right alignment of the embedded pics. =)


Posted by: Joe (Kent) on October 9, 2012 1:10AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio lawmakers propose grants for home construction for disabled people
We have been trying to have a "Visitability Bill" passed for years. Thanks, Greg

Lake County crimes may give Trump immigration fodder
Shoddy reporting at best. "Mixed views" The question that came to my mind was, "How many people did he have to interview to get "mixed views". Do the two peo...

Ohio's U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announces plans to improve Medicare by lowering prescription costs for seniors
Sounds good. I'm living in Florida to escape the snow. So far it's working. I retired from GM in 2000. Keep pushing for all the working people. In the long run ...

The tiny town that time, and elections, forgot may go out of existence
Thank you for this story. I grew up in Limaville, my parents home is there still...unsellable due to the septic/sewer problem. Sometimes I am sorry I left...wis...

Where Ohio'sJohn Kasich stands in the presidential polls
We are fans of Gov. Kasich since he served in the House of Representatives. It pleases us to finally see him as the potential President of the United States. We...

Cleveland hosts the first national Movement for Black Lives conference
What a wonderful experience this was, So much love and understanding, without all of the other distractions that tend to come with organizing for change, this e...

Air Force unit gets training and Youngstown gets rid of some eyesores
Do they have to totally destroy all the beautiful oak and leaded windows, which I am thinking are probably there? Do they just have to destroy them like that? C...

Jewish challah and Native American fry bread at an Akron cultural exchange
Each time I saw the young students relate to each other, I got goose bumps. These young students can and hopefully will teach all of us to live and respect eac...

One of the Cleveland Orchestra's most celebrated musicians bids farewell
I had the honor of studying with Franklin Cohen in the late 80s and early 90s. He is unparalleled both as a clarinetist and as a musician. His deep personal war...

Summa's dress code is not 'etched in stone'
SOME OF THESE POLICIES ARE A COMPLETE JOKE. UNLESS YOU ARE DOING THESE TYPE OF JOBS EVERY DAY, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IS COMFORTABLE AND REASONABLE OR NOT. UNLESS ...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University