YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s been two years since the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments recommended that nine dams along the Mahoning River, between Warren and Lowellville, be removed.
Now, WKBN 27 First News is looking at what’s been done, what still needs to be done, and whether all nine will actually come down.
In August, the Lowellville Dam on the Mahoning River was the first of the nine dams to be removed. It was a learning experience.
“Lowelleville’s was a little rough at the beginning but so much was learned there that we were able to use along the rest of the river,” said Joann Esenwein, planning director for the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.
The Eastgate Regional Council of Governments is overseeing the project. Esenwein says the removal of the Struthers Dam should be done this summer.
Youngstown has three dams, including one under the Marshall Street Bridge and the more dangerous Crescent Street Dam, which was used by US Steel’s Ohio Works. The money has been approved for the Youngstown dams and removal should begin in 2022.
“It’ll take a little longer because it’s a longer portion of the river and more dams involved,” Esenwein said.
This past December, funding was approved to remove the Summit Street Dam, though there’s no timetable for getting it down.
That leaves the Leavitsburg Dam, where people are concerned changing the water level could be a problem; the Girard Dam, which is still used by McDonald Steel; the Republic Dam, out of site next to Warren’s Coke plant, which also still uses the pool of water behind it.
In regards to the Republic Dam, an email was sent to Eastgate two weeks ago by Joe Magni, operations manager of the Coke Plant, stating in part: “Removal of our dam would put the coke plant at an unacceptable level of risk.”
“If it had a negative effect, and we can’t mitigate it, we will not remove the dams,” Esenwein said.
Eastgate has contracted with MS Consultants to study the Leavittsburg, Girard, and Republic Dams to see what the effects will be of removing them. The study is expected to be completed in March.