Kalamazoo River Webline

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Plainwell Impoundment Removal Action –
Completed Spring 2009

The Plainwell Impoundment project area in May 2009, after the completion of construction.

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Construction work in the former Plainwell Impoundment is now complete. All targeted soils and sediments have been excavated, processed, and shipped offsite for final disposal at commercial landfills. The water control structure and the cofferdams – built to control water levels and flow and isolate portions of the river – have been removed, and construction crews have moved out all the heavy equipment and materials used during the project.

The final planting efforts in the work areas around the old Plainwell Dam, which included reseeding with native grasses and planting trees and shrubs, were completed in May 2009.

The cleanup project is now in the monitoring and maintenance phase. For the next three years, crews will inspect the river banks and restored habitat periodically to make sure the banks remain stable and the plants are growing. Field staff will make repairs and replant as necessary.

Over the course of the project, nearly 130,000 cubic yards of soils and sediments were excavated from this 1.5-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River. In addition, with the removal of a portion of the old Plainwell Dam, the river is now flowing freely in its historical channel for the first time in more than 100 years. The series of photographs below shows the progression of work, and the photograph to the right shows the project area in May 2009, after the completion of construction.


Project Highlights:

  • 130,000 cubic yards of bank soils and sediments excavated and disposed in
    commercial landfills
  • 5,000 pounds of PCBs removed from the system
  • 3 miles of river bank habitat restored
  • 5 miles of river between Plainwell No. 2 and Otsego City Dams returned to free-flowing condition
  • 2,000 trees and shrubs and 30+ native plant species used in revegetation


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Removal of the Plainwell Dam – 2007 to 2009

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Before the start of the project, the western channel was blocked by a berm, and the river flowed over the Plainwell Dam. During the first year of the project (2007), the river continued to flow over the dam while crews removed the berm and built the water control structure.

Before the start of the project, the western channel was blocked by a berm, and the river flowed over the Plainwell Dam.

During the first year of the project (2007), the river continued to flow over the dam while crews removed the berm and built the water control structure.

During the second year of the project (2008), the river flowed over the water control structure while crews removed sediments behind the dam. After completing the construction work, crews removed the water control structure so the river could once again flow freely through the restored western channel.

During the second year of the project (2008), the river flowed over the water control structure while crews removed sediments behind the dam.

After completing the construction work, crews removed the water control structure so the river could once again flow freely through the restored western channel.

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Timeline of Plainwell Impoundment Removal Action

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A graphic timeline of the Plainwell Impoundment Removal Action