On Jan. 31 the contractor for Fairbank Dam started to break up the Fairbank Dam. An important part of this work was to rig a turbidity curtain across the river downstream to trap any sediment for removal.

Evidently the cable support for the curtain was not strong enough to hold it and it snapped or slipped and the curtain was washed aside, but they continued to use the Ho-Ram to break down the dam, so naturally, whatever sediment is behind it will simply wash down the river and probably lodge in the Swan Pond basin or along the river downstream. None of it will be trapped for removal.

Now Fairbank Dam has been there since 1920, and the contract called for the removal of an estimated 50 cubic yards of this gunk prior to breaking the dam, which was not done. So regardless of what is there, it will be now down the river.

I informed the village manager that this was happening, and he said he would contact the Corps project manager. In arguing with the contractor he said first that they had tried but it broke, and then second that a Corps representative had OK’d them to proceed without the curtain. I wonder if the EPA is informed and/or on board with that decision.

The manager for the contractor told me he didn’t want to talk about it with me or anyone else – he said we work for the Corps only – and we got into some argument, and then he said that the water flow is too fast for them to use a curtain. When I asked them why they didn’t do the job during summer when the depth is around 3 feet and the flow less – after all they have had well over a year to figure out how to do this – the conversation degenerated further.

It is now clearly evident that what I warned about has come to pass. The village has no position or standing in this project. It is just between the contractor and the Corps. And it appears that the Corps can change anything they want to whenever they want to without informing the village – exactly what I warned about over and over again. They will do what they want, as they want, and we will be stuck with whatever they leave us.

The contracts for both Fairbank and Hofmann specify removal of sediment before breaching the dam. No samples that I am aware of were ever taken between Fairbank and Hofmann, but above Hofmann the samples show all kind of toxic materials – there are pages of that info in the contract. So now, whatever is there will be God knows where. If they can’t trap this smaller amount above Fairbank, how will they do it when Hofmann is breached?

This is the first step in this project, and the village approved this project and granted the easements for access based on the contract and the assurance of the Corps and the IDNR that this would be done responsibly. Now it is plain for all to see that what I warned about – that once they had the easements we would have nothing to say about the outcome – has come to pass.

Since other parts of the project have not yet been codified, such as what the work in the Swan Pond will include, what the path will be made of, etc. I think we are in for some grave disappointments. Not just when things get done but how they are done. We are merely spectators now.

Donald Spatny