Forest Preserve District of Will County officials moved forward Thursday with their plan to remove the Hammel Woods dam in Shorewood.
The board of commissioners voted to approve a contract with WBK Engineering and a memorandum of understanding with the Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition, according to a news release from the district. The district’s operations committee recently voted unanimously to approve the action items, moving them forward to the board.
In 2017, the coalition paid for a study of the pros and cons of either modifying or removing the Hammel Woods dam. Removal was recommended, but the amount of funding needed was not yet available to move forward with the plan, the release said.
However, in February, the city of Naperville received a new wastewater discharge permit from the Environmental Protection Agency, and as part of that process, it had to pay fees to the coalition for river-related enhancements. That money was earmarked for the Hammel Woods dam removal.
The estimated cost for removal of the dam is $585,000. The work also would be funded by the coalition.
Removal of the dam would improve the river’s ecology and water quality, the release stated. It also would return the river to its natural state and eliminate the need for paddlers to portage around the site, creating a safer and healthier river for everyone.
Although there were objections in the past to removal of the dam for
sentimental reasons, that no longer seems to be the case, said Andrew Hawkins, the forest preserve’s
director of planning and development.
“Now, people seem to recognize the environmental, health and safety benefits of removing the dam,” he said.