EPA river cleanup plan includes removal of the Otsego City Dam

Daniel Pepper

Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency have adopted a record of decision that includes a removal of the Otsego City Dam.
In the decision, the agency said dam removal would help achieve a major goal of the Kalamazoo River Superfund cleanup, separating the river’s main area of flow from side branches where there are high concentrations of PCBs, which the agency considers cancer causing.
“Removal of the dam will result in the northeast anabranches not conveying water under normal flow conditions.
“As such, fish will no longer have routine access to these areas with higher PCB concentrations. Dam removal is also desired by the City of Otsego and the State of Michigan for several reasons, including reducing long-term dam maintenance and restoring natural free-flowing conditions to the river.”
The remedy was selected from among several considered in the last month and outlined at a public meeting in Otsego.
In addition to removing the dam, the EPA will realign the river’s channel. This, the agency said, will create a single stable channel and will protect the river’s flood plain from erosion, including of PCB-contaminated soils into the river.
The soil along the banks will be excavated and contamination will be removed, providing a buffer between the new channel and the floodplain.
Some PCB hotspots on an island in the river will be excavated and others will be capped with clean soil.
The Gun River will also be modified when the Kalamazoo River is reconfigured.


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