Plans in the works for low-head dam removal on Elkhart River

An example of a low-head dam (photo supplied / DNR)

The Army Corps of Engineers is working on plans to remove a low-head dam on the Elkhart River that has structural concerns.

Water spills over the top of the dam near the city of Elkhart’s downtown area. City aquatic biologist Daragh Deegan says the dam dates to the late 1800s and was built with river rock and covered with concrete.

Deegan told city officials that water is penetrating the dam. The Army Corps of Engineers will pay about two-thirds of the $2 million cost to remove the dam, while a demolition-and-replacement project could cost up to $6 million.

Deegan says the dam’s removal will increase the number of fish species in the Elkhart River as it now blocks many migrating from the St. Joseph River.