There’s no telling exactly what the folks from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) are going to reveal to Riverside residents on Thursday night over at P.J. Klem’s. The group was tasked with the independent verification of data regarding the hydrology of the Des Plaines River.
The request was prompted by the discovery of data that appeared to contradict earlier predictions about water levels on the river once the Hofmann Dam is removed. It was a discovery that in a way put the village back at square one. The big question has always been, “How will the river respond to the dam’s removal?”
On Thursday, we’re going to get the USGS’ best guess. It’s doubtful that that analysis, whatever it may be, is going to calm critics of the dam removal who haven’t believed in the Army Corps’ ability to engineer its way out of a paper bag since the get-go.
In the end, however, it’s not the critics or even the village that the USGS has to convince because it doesn’t appear the Army Corps really needs the village’s cooperation to resume the removal work.
The only thing getting in the way of the project is some sort of dire prediction by the USGS about future water levels. That seems doubtful.
All of the preliminary groundwork has been laid. The only thing that extracting easements from the Army Corps and Illinois Department of Natural Resources is going to accomplish at this point is stop them from ensuring that the Riverside riverbank is restored and Swan Pond Park regraded.
The dam removal operation will come from the other side of the river, which is a federal waterway. The village has no standing to prevent the removal from happening.
There are some in the village who also believe that the Swan Pond Park plan is a mistake because of the number of trees slated for removal.
This is where we disagree strongly. No one wants to lose mature trees, but Swan Pond Park is a drainage nightmare. The park must be regraded to allow flood water to escape the park as quickly and naturally as possible.
Calls for lift stations and ejector pumps simply add to the cost and the complications afterward. Such devices need maintenance and replacement over time. The whole point here is to make the park drain as quickly, naturally and inexpensively as possible. It’s a flood plain. It’s going to flood.
As for trees, they are a renewable resource. New trees can be planted and they will grow. Maybe the present generation won’t be able to enjoy the trees in their maturity, but future generations surely will.
This isn’t about now. This is about the future and about correcting a longstanding problem. Giving in to hysteria isn’t the way to go.
Thursday should not be the day Riverside walks away from the Hofmann Dam removal project – it’s going to happen anyway. It should be the day the village recommits itself to making sure the project results in the best possible outcome for Riverside.