Lingering problems at Morrow Dam still affecting Kalamazoo River

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Fishermen on the Kalamazoo River are calling for additional action to stop sediment from washing downstream from Morrow Dam. 

The sediments have washed down the river after the water level was lowered last year to work on the spillway gates. Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, the company that owns the dam, says the gates were not able to be repaired and are in the process of being replaced, which has delayed the project. 

Scott Markham, a professional fishing guide, says the sediments have greatly reduced the fish population. 

“The clarity and visibility in the water is highly decreased and with that you’ll see a lot fewer bites,” Markham said. 

The state has issued two violations against the owner of the dam over the sediments.

Derek Haroldson, an environmental quality analyst with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, surveyed the area Friday with state Sen. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo.

“They’re going to be required to continue to put in measures to get the river conditions back to closer to the baseline conditions upstream,” Haroldson said. 

Jodi Smet, vice president of regulatory affairs with Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, says the company is working on the issue.  

“So far in the system, we have about 2,400 feet of a combination of shoreline protection and turbidity curtains,” Smet said. 

Eagle Creek Renewable Energy is planning to install an additional 1,600 feet of protective curtains by the end of next week 

“We understand that what we’ve installed to date has not stopped the problem. We do believe that there’s been improvement but things are continuing to move in the system and so we need to do more,” Smet said. 

Sen. McCann said restoring the river needs to be a priority.  

“We want to make sure that enforcement is followed when it’s necessary and we want to see that the actors that are working with EGLE are acting in good faith and doing what they’re saying they’re going to do,” McCann said. 

The owner of the dam says the new spillway gates should be fully installed by the end of the year. 

The process of raising the reservoir will be done working closely with state regulators to reduce the impact on wildlife. 

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