Next step in Boardman removal begins

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The Brown Bridge Dam was removed from the Boardman River in 2013 as part of the Boardman River Renewal project. Image: Derek Young

By Max Johnston

This story originally appeared on Interlochen Public Radio and is republished here with permission.

Boardman Dam removal begins this week

On Thursday, engineers will start siphoning out water from behind the Boardman Dam in the first step to remove the 130-year-old structure. As a result residents downstream should expect cloudy water in the next few weeks, according to project manager Dan Devaun.

“I would go ahead and paint as bleak a picture to start with,“ said Devaun, Boardman project manager of Engineering Firm AECOM. “It could be a noticeable difference all the way out to the mouth.”

The siphoning will take between two-to-four weeks and will deposit sediment downstream. The effect on the water could last for four-to-six weeks, Devaun said.

In 2004, The Traverse City Board of Light and Power discontinued three dams on the Boardman River: Brown Bridge, Boardman and Sabin dams.

Read a series on Michigan dams and their removal.

However, The Boardman River Restoration Project hasn’t always gone according to plan. In 2012 officials declared a state of emergency after a breach in The Brown Bridge Dam caused millions of dollars in property damage. Residents settled a lawsuit with contractors and local governments over the property damage two years later.

The Brown Bridge Dam was removed in 2013, with the Boardman following this summer and Sabin scheduled to come out in 2018. The implementation team is still trying to secure additional funding for the Sabin project.

Siphoning is one of the last preparation steps before the removal of Boardman. The dam is expected to be removed in the dry months of July or August.

Devaun outlined the siphoning plan at the meeting of The Boardman River Dams Implementation Team last Thursday.

The implementation team will meet again on July 20. Meetings are open to the public.

This story was produced under a partnership of Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism and Interlochen Public Radio.

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