To passersby, residents and others along the Thornapple River, seeing water levels rising and hearing repairs will soon be made to a spillway is good news after nearly a year of watching it become a thin steam of water after flooding damaged the spillway on McCann Road.
The spillway leading to the hydroelectric plant in Irving Township is almost ready to be repaired. Equipment and materials being brought in this week will be ready to go when tempatures are above freezing and contractors can go to work, hopefully in the next week or so, said Scott Goodwin, owner of Commonwealth Power of California.
Given good weather, the repairs can be done in about three days, he said. "It looks like we may have a window of oportunity early next week, if the forecasts are right."
When a section of the earthen part of the spillway was breached by the rising river late last February, it gave way, flooding homes in the area.The backwater in front of the Irving Dam drained away, leaving dead grass and weeds and a small stream wending its way to the dam and the spillway.
People stopped to take photos of the shrinking river and some were seen walking with their children up the middle of what was the river a short time before. Traffic of canoes and kayaks at the popular landing spot on the river at McCann Road near the dam dwindled and stopped.
After repairs, the level of the river will rise naturally, Goodwin said. "A good sized storm would make a big difference."
With the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michgan Department of Environmental Quality and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permiting and approvals in hand, "We're very grateful to be where we are," Goodwin said.
Goodwin also owns the dam in Middleville and the LaBarge Dam in Caledonia Township.
(left) The area to be repaired is the spillway leading to the Commonwealth Power Company hydroelectric plant on Irving Road.
The Irving Dam, to the left in the photo, didn’t have water to hold back during the summer of 2018.
A photo taken where the river’s edge was in the late winter, shows the river’s size in the summer; it's the dark line on the left of the photo.
Under the roadway are three huge holes that can’t handle all the water in the rising river last February.
The backwater near the Irving Dam is starting to fill in the boat landing area in front of the spillway.