The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is beginning work to remove the Alcott Street Dam on Portage Creek, located beneath Alcott Street between Portage and Burdick Streets. The aging dam no longer serves a purpose and its removal will remove the risk of a dam failure, increase connectivity for aquatic animals in Portage Creek, provide natural habitat, increase floodplain storage volume and remove nearly 50,000 cubic yards of impounded material.
Construction is planned to begin on February 5 with a contractual completion date in August, although the construction team has indicated that work may be completed earlier in the summer. The project area will include the dam and the section of the creek directly south. The project is not expected to require the closure of Alcott Street. The project team has been working with City of Kalamazoo engineers to ensure the dam can be safely removed from the street.
The dam is located in an area of the city that formerly contained several paper mills and has been the focus of ongoing cleanup efforts. This project is another step towards restoration of the area which is seen the cleanup of the Bryant Mill Pond in 1998, the Performance Paper Site in 2010-11 and additional work on Portage Creek from 2012-2014. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently planning a separate cleanup effort for the Allied Landfill Site.
Funding for the project is provided in part by the State of Michigan and with funds from the Kalamazoo River Natural Resources Damage Assessment.
An informational meeting was held on February 2 with representatives from the MDEQ and other project partners. You can view the presentation slides pdf here (13.68 MB) which provide some additional details on this project as well as some of the history of cleanup efforts in the area.