In the ongoing quest for progress, most people would not give an aging dam much debate on keeping it or removing it. Well, that’s quite the opposite for Ann Arbor’s own Argo Dam as the city is caught between destroying or making upgrades.
Argo Dam was built in 1920; the dam’s primary purpose was to produce hydroelectric power for Detroit Edison. It was decommissioned in 1959 and was sold to the city in 1963. After repairs were done to it in 1968, it’s been used as a footbridge. A really expensive footbridge.
Now the city favors in taking down the dam for several reasons. *
As of June 2009, the dam requires an additional $300,000 minimal for repairs and is something Ann Arbor can’t afford. *
Health of the Huron River*
Because of the unnatural flow of water produced by the dam, it has an adverse effect on the habitat of Argo Pond.
Sudden surges and influxes of water temperatures make it difficult for local fish and plant life to thrive in the pond. Removing the dam would keep invasive species out of the pond, level out riverbank erosion and cut down on pollutants like phosphorus.
Removing the dam would make the surrounding area look much better and improve the land value surrounding the pond.
With these pro’s, it’s very clear to see the benefits of removing the dam for the city, but there is a con to all this.
The dam provides a controlled environment for rowers to use the pond for sport and recreation. Also, rowing teams at schools like Huron High School and the University of Michigan used Argo Pond for practices. Removal of the dam would mean professional and recreational rowers would have to find another river or pond on which to practice.
However, should Huron River be big enough to accommodate rowers in a different area? The Huron River runs for about 136 miles from Pontiac to Ypsilanti. Therefore there must be somewhere nearby that can be as suitable as Argo Pond to practice. Gallup Park alone should have a smooth stretch between the canoeing docks and the Dixboro dam.
This is a very complex debate that affects the city of Ann Arbor, however restoring the Argo stretch of the Huron River would be a great benefit to Ann Arbor for wildlife and people in the long run.