As for Laura Rubin and her colleagues on the Huron River Watershed Council, they hope Mill Creek’s story will help build community support for removing two other dams on the Huron River—Ann Arbor’s Argo Dam and the Peninsular Dam north of Ypsilanti.
“These are the dams that, from a hydrologic and ecological point of view, we get the biggest bang for the buck,” Rubin says. But it won’t be easy. “The local rowing community is opposed to removing Argo Dam, because they use the impoundment pond extensively. Peninsular has about a dozen homes sitting right on the impoundment pond. People bought the house because it was on a lake. Now they’d be on a river with wetlands and fields in front of their house.”
Every dam has its own unique situations, and building community consensus is an important part of the process. Creating public support to remove dams in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti is likely to be much more difficult than it was in Dexter. But unless and until that happens, the political process—like water in a river—will take the path of least resistance.
[Originally published in January, 2009.]