New Grand Rapids WhiteWater Project Details Revealed E-mail
by staff

More specific details about the project to restore the Grand River's downtown rapids have been released. The non-profit Grand Rapids WhiteWater (GRWW) group has been working with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to determine the feasibility of removing or modifying five man-made dams between the Sixth Street Bridge and Wealthy Street in order to restore the area to its more natural, original state.

GRWW hired Colorado-based RiverRestoration to complete Phase I of the feasibility study and the results were presented at today's DDA meeting. The group found that benefits from a restoration would include a 500% increase in fish holding habitat, the propagation of 100,000 mussels, space for an International Canoe Federation slalom course, one adjustable whitewater surfing wave and room for six to eight lanes for rowing competitions.

Research also revealed that upstream from the Sixth Street Dam sits a submerged limestone shelf that was likely prime spawning ground for the abundant sturgeon reported by historical accounts in the 19th century. The project would reintroduce 12 acres of limestone bedrock shoals that could be wadeable by parkgoers during the Grand River's low flows.

Two new riverfront parks are also part of the proposed project. One would be located near of the water filtration plant on Ann Street, while the other would be at the City of Grand Rapids Maintenance Yard on Market St SW at the US-131 exit. The City would also construct a river trail to connect Riverside Park with Canal Street Park.

Tentatively, the final design of the project would be submitted in 2013, with construction beginning about a year later. GRWW hopes the rehab would be finished by the end of 2016.

If approved, the total estimated cost for the project would be$27.5m, with the funds coming from a mix of federal grants, donors and local government. The study estimated the that financial impact on the heart of Grand Rapids would be more than $5m annually.


Published: August 8, 2012

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