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Nonprofit provides a timetable on restoring the Grand River to a natural look

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Posted at 9:07 PM, Nov 10, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — There's some movement to restore the Grand River to its natural state. 

At the first public input meeting Wednesday night, Grand Rapids WhiteWater says they have an idea when they want to remove four of the downtown dams.

Grand Rapids WhiteWater Project Manager Matt Chapman says he's optimistic about seeing work starting in summer.

"All four of those structures would be removed as part of that process and replaced with rock and boulder," Chapman told FOX 17.

The nonprofit is spearheading this massive project wants this river to return to a more natural look. During the presentation, organizers showed several slides of their plans.

Several colors indicate how they can use different sizes of rocks and boulders, causing the river to move faster or slower.

"I mean, again, you know, this just kind of adds to all of the great things that Grand Rapids has going on," Chapman said.

However, don't plan your summer around hopping into the river. There is still a lot that needs to happen before the dams come out.

"It's going to be dependent on the regulatory processes and know how efficiently we're able to go through these and process the various state and federal permits," Chapman added.

Since these structures are historical and this portion of the project uses $4.1 million in grant money, they fall under the preservation act. So before work can start, the public has a chance to give their input for Grand Rapids WhiteWater to move forward or go back to the drawing board.

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"How deep will the water depth be when the dams are removed?" one person asked. "A lot of water depths is what we are proposing," one of the commentators said. 

"We're really working through, and tonight's a good example of working through that kind of regulatory process to get the permits needed to start the construction," Chapman said.

If this project receives the final green light, the mitigation process will start. This means the nonprofit needs to provide pictures and drawings of dams to be saved if they are taken out.

They also need to work with the museum if any significant cultural artifacts are found.

A second and final scheduled meeting is on Nov. 29 from 12–1 p.m.

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