ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Allegan is considering a proposal to remove its dam as part of a project to clean up contaminated soil along the Kalamazoo River.

City Manager Joel Dye said the project would cost between $8 million and $10 million and would mostly be covered by state, federal and private grants.

The dam was installed in the late 1800s to generate power and has served no other purpose. The city acquired it in the 1990s when the company that owned it no longer needed the dam for power generation.

Removing the dam would allow fish to pass through and would create space to fill in with soil for a park with a boat launch.  

“It really becomes a destination for people who want to get out on the water, who want to fish on the water,” Dye said.

allegan dam rendering
A rendering of the Kalamazoo River without the Allegan Dam courtesy the city of Allegan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working to clean up toxic soil along the river. According to Dye, the section in Allegan will be cleaned up in about four years so the federal agency needs an answer soon on how the city wants to move forward.

“They’re telling the city of Allegan we have to make a decision,” Dye said.

The removal of the dam would create a passage to allow small boats down the river.

“People will be able to put in a kayak in Plainwell and once Otsego City Dam is removed and Trowbridge Dam is removed, you’ll be able to go from Plainwell all the way from downtown Allegan,” Dye said.

If the city council decides to approve the removal, it will be many years before the project is complete.

“We’re looking at about a four- to five-year process,” Dye said.  

The dam also contributes to ice dams building up and causing flooding. The city says the removal would reduce that risk.