While the removal of the Hofmann and Fairbank dams certainly had an impact on the look, level and health of the Des Plaines River near Riverside, the success of the project means that it will have an impact elsewhere in the state.
That was the message sent by Gov. Pat Quinn, who visited Riverside on Oct. 26 to mark the completion of the dam-removal effort and announce that it was the opening salvo in a campaign to rid Illinois rivers of obsolete dams.
At a press conference held just a few yards from the site of the former Hofmann Dam, Quinn said he’ll seek removal of 16 more dams on the Des Plaines, Chicago, Fox and Vermilion rivers “in the next couple of years.”
“We’re kicking off today a dam-removal initiative all across Illinois,” said Quinn. “We have money in our capital budget in Illinois to improve our free-flowing rivers all across our state.
“It’s important that we protect and preserve our natural resources, environment and especially our water.”
About 100 people attended the press conference, which included officials from the village of Riverside, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Cook County Forest Preserve District. All of those agencies collaborated on the Hofmann Dam removal effort, which was really a multiphase project that saw the removal of three dams and the improvement of Swan Pond Park in Riverside.
Removing the Armitage, Hofmann and Fairbank dams opened a stretch of the Des Plaines River from Devon Avenue in Park Ridge on the north to almost Joliet on the south.
Removing the dam “has created essentially 57 miles of free-flowing stream throughout the Chicagoland area on the Des Plaines River,” said Lt. Col. Jim Schreiner of the Army Corps of Engineers.”
The project’s goal was to improve fish habitat along the river, water quality, safety and to increase opportunities for recreation.
According to the Army Corps, the total cost of the dam-removal effort completed in the past 18 months has cost roughly $7.3 million. The project was funded by a combination of federal and state aid.
While Quinn announced that the Hofmann Dam removal project was the start of a statewide dam-removal campaign, there is no schedule yet for the removal of the other dams mentioned during last week’s press conference.