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U.S. EPA to Launch Engineering Study Detailing Removal of Sediment Behind Gorge Dam

The Gorge dam holds 832,000 cubic feet of contaminated sediment behind it that must be removed before it comes down. An engineering study being launched later this year will detail that important step.

The U.S. EPA is moving ahead with the next phase of removing the largest remaining dam on the Cuyahoga River. Federal, state, and local agencies are paving the way for the most complicated part of the process.

The massive dam – part of a former hydroelectric generator – holds 832,000 cubic feet of contaminated sediment behind it.

And all that muck need to be moved before the concrete dam comes down.

The U.S. EPA, along with the Ohio EPA and local stakeholders signed an agreement this week to launch a $1.7 million engineering study detailing the sediment removal.

Elaine Marsh is Summit Metro Park’s watershed specialist and facilitator of the stakeholders committee.

She says the engineering study is a crucial step in the dam removal process.

photo of lake behind Gorge Dam
This lake fills the narrow gorge that once attracted tourists from around the region before the hydroelectric dam was built in 1911. Underneath the lake lies 832,000 cubic feet of contaminated sediment that EPA officials say needs to be removed before the dam comes down.

“I mean you don’t just get up one morning and say, ‘ok, let’s move the sediment on downstream,’ there are a lot of scientific and historic studies and permits that need to be obtained,” says Marsh.

She says the 18-month study should get underway later this year.

The entire price tag for the dam removal is around $70 million – $57.5 million of it going toward taking out the sediment.

The Ohio EPA says the removal is necessary to bring the Cuyahoga River into compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Jeff is your average chemist turned radio host and reporter. He currently hosts middays on WKSU and has reported extensively on science, politics, business, and the environment.