That Dam Problem in Caledonia.
Water levels in the river lowered two feet in thirty minutes by closing the gates at the LaBarge Dam impoundment.
The manager of the LaBarge Dam often closes the gates to recharge the impoundment at 84th street, resulting in instant lowering of water level downstream by as much as two feet. The lowered levels reach almost all the way to the Cascade dam impoundment. Observers have noted stranded fish and many dead aquatic insects when this occurs. This is very damaging to the river ecology at this stretch. The dam has been reported to be operated at "run of the river" levels, but this photograph documents that this is not true. Run of the river does not result in such drastic and abrupt changes in water levels.

There's an ongoing issue about removing hydroelectric dams that have been in place for around fifty to a hundred years. (Why remove them? Read about how hydroelectric dams affect rivers, and what the EPA recommendations are about dams.)

Commonwealth Power of Okemos, Michigan, operates three dams on the Thornapple River. For the past several years, FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources have blocked license renewal for these dams. At present, Commonwealth has permission to continue operations.

Commonwealth Power spokespersons have informed the community that the DNR has apparently been abusing their power in what seems to be an attempt to put the dams out of business. When the DNR required study after study by Commonwealth, and refused to renew the required certificates, Commonwealth finally took them to court, as the studies were not specified by law. The judgement by Ingham County Circuit Court (judge W.E.Collette) maintained that the DNR "has not properly promulgated rules governing the grant or denial of water quality certificates," and ordered the DNR to issue the certificates. To date, the DNR has not issued the certificates, and has appealed the decision.

Who is paying for all this litigation??? Commonwealth Power, and the citizens of Michigan. Your tax dollars are at work, here, my friends. Do you like it?

NO? Then let

Thornapple River Dam Tour!

Residents have built their dream homes along the banks of the river, to enjoy the natural beauty and recreation. The community is NOT in favor of removing the dams, whether or not they know that this is a healthy move for the river. The existing ecosystems are at risk, even though they are artificially created and maintained by the dams.

If you are a Caledonia or Thornapple River resident, and you want the most recent info on this issue, contact us at the email address on this page. The TRWG has been assured by public officials that the dams will remain in place for now.

EPA data on the impoundments on the Thornapple River.
Link temporarily misplaced (the EPA calls this "reorganization".)

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Link to Riverhouse: Thornapple River information,watershed ecology, and on-line field guides.

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