The 81-year-old barricade was finally demolished after more than ten years of dispute. Beginning in early March and lasting for roughly six weeks, the controversial structure was erased from its anchored footprint across the Milwaukee River.

Ice barriers were removed from the south shore, followed by the floodgates and spillway of the dam itself. The property will now be returned to the county for park usage.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) received $2.3 million in grants to pay for the dam removal. The dam, which was built around 1937, had not been operating since 2008 when the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ordered the previous owners, Milwaukee County, to open the gates after finding safety problems.

Dam restoration that could have repaired and upgraded the structure would have costed $4.1 million. The additional cost of operating and maintaining the dam would have run $160,000 per year. Extensive studies found that the benefits of removal the dam, aside from the cost savings, included better water quality and return of aquatic plants.

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Susan Ruggles and Lee Matz