Pucker Street dam on Dowagiac River near Niles

Archived Story

Pucker Street dam’s future unresolved

Published 10:14pm Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Niles City Administrator Ric Huff is hoping this year will bring answers regarding the long dormant Pucker Street dam on the Dowagiac River in Niles.
But he’s not holding his breath.
“There are still a lot of unknowns,” Huff said. “We’re hoping to have some solid information in six to nine months.”
What the city does know is only one qualifying proposal has been made in response to its RFPs (request for proposals) for bidders interested in restoring power to the dam.
Two proposals were received, but only one, from Falling Waters LLC, met the city’s specifications.
The northern Indiana company made a presentation to the city council last year, touting its newest hydroenergy technology — a multiconsecutive generation system it claimed would increase the efficiency of the dam. The company proposed buying or leasing the facility and installing kinetic, “fish-friendly” turbines to produce power to sell on a grid.
Huff said he was hoping for more interest from the RFPs, but the city is still researching options on what to do with the dam.
“Some citizens have expressed concern that we’ve already made our decision. We haven’t,” Huff said. “We are in the information gathering phase.”
The city is also looking into the costs and potential funding sources for removal of the dam.
A group known as the Dowagiac River Keepers, a group of nine out-of-staters, has been pressing the council for months to consider removing the dam for the ecological health of the Dowagiac River.
Fellow Berrien County city Watervliet recently removed a dam on the Paw Paw River in a project mostly funded by grants.
Huff said he hopes the city will make a decision on the dam’s future by the end of the year.
“There’s definitely the desire to do something with it,” he said.

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