Hamilton Dam FAQ

  • Will construction activities affect pedestrian traffic?

Yes. Follow this link for pedestrian traffic detours.

  • Why is money being used for the dam and not to address the water pipes?

The funds being used to remove the Hamilton and Fabri Dams comes from the Dam Management grant program from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Money from this fund can only be used to address failing or deficient dams in the State of Michigan.

  • Why do these dams need to be removed?

The Hamilton Dam is a classified as a high hazard critical dam by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Numerous studies of the dam have been done in recent years to evaluate its structural integrity. The results of the studies are consistent and found that the dam is in poor condition, with substantial structural deficiencies reported for both the dam and the gates. The dam was originally built for the logging industry in 1920 and has no purpose today.

The Fabri Dam was installed in 1979 and serves no purpose today. It was originally built for aesthetic purposes.

Beyond the safety issues, there are many benefits to removing dams. Dams cause river systems to become fragmented, preventing the movement of fish and other aquatic species to move upstream of the dam. In addition, dams alter rivers’ natural hydrology, water quality, and the natural movement of sediment and woody debris.

  • How do you remove the dam?

The superstructure of the Hamilton Dam will be removed including the piers, gates, and deck. Water control will require careful thought with respect to methods and sequencing. The process will include directing river flows via cofferdams over a portion of the dam, then performing the scoped demolition activities and then reorienting the flow control measures (cofferdams) to isolate the remaining components to be removed.

To remove the Fabri Dam, a cofferdam will be used in place to isolate the work area from the water. All gates, hinges, mechanisms, and bladders attached to the concrete weir will be removed.  The foundation and weir will be left in place.

  • Will the water level change?

In the interim, there will be an initial re-stabilization of the river to the proposed fixed weir condition which may seem like lower water levels downstream during low flow periods. Once the initial impoundment of water directly upstream of the dam stabilizes to historical levels the remainder of the river will see very little, if any effect.

  • Will the dam be completely removed?

No. The superstructure of the Hamilton Dam (the deck above the water line) will be completely removed. The substructure, which is a concrete weir below the water, will remain along with the foundation. The substructure will be addressed in the next phase of river restoration.

  • Doesn’t the dam provide flood control?

That is a common misconception. Removing the Hamilton Dam will actually improve flood control.

  • Is this part of the work upstream?

No. The work being done on the Flint River between the Robert T. Longway Bridge and the Hamilton Dam is Consumers Energy’s remediation project. More information can be found here: https://www.consumersenergy.com/east-boulevard-remediation

  • Will removing the dams improve fishing?

Yes, absolutely! Currently, no fish or macroinvertebrates can move upstream of the Hamilton Dam, and while some fish can pass the Fabri Dam, it inhibits passage for some fish and most macroinvertebrates. It is expected that during the next phase of river restoration that fisheries will improve greatly.

  • How are the City of Flint and Genesee County Parks working together to remove the dams?

The Genesee County Parks and the City of Flint have an agreement that gives the Genesee County Parks the responsibility and authority to manage several city parks, the Flint River Trail, and the Flint Riverfront Restoration Project, which includes the removal of the Hamilton and Fabri Dams. The Genesee County Parks and the City of Flint meet on a weekly basis on this specific project.

 

Definitions:

  • Weir: a low dam built across a river to raise the level of water upstream or regulate its flow
  • Cofferdam: a watertight enclosure pumped dry to permit construction work below the waterline
  • Macroinvertebrates: various invertebrate macroorganisms such as crayfish, snails, insects, etc.