Milwaukee Riverkeeper
Press Release

Environmental Groups Support Milwaukee County’s Decision to Remove the Estabrook Dam

Despite the public outcry the Board of Supervisors have never held a straight up and down vote on repairing or removing the dam.

By - Oct 5th, 2016 10:49 am
Estabrook Dam

Estabrook Dam

Yesterday, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), Milwaukee County, and the City of Milwaukee announced plans for MMSD to purchase the Estabrook Dam from Milwaukee County. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is the government agency responsible for flood management services for a majority of their district, including the section of the Milwaukee River on which the Estabrook Dam is located. The purchase effectively transfers ownership and operational control of the Estabrook Dam from one public entity to another.

“Today’s announcement marks a turning point in an almost decade-long effort to remove the Estabrook Dam and help restore the health of the Milwaukee River. The decision rightly gives the government agency responsible for providing flood management services to the area, the ability to actually manage and minimize flood risk in the area. This is especially important for the 50 properties located in the flood plain upstream of Estabrook Dam, which are at an increased risk for flooding and could hold the owner of the Estabrook Dam liable if it’s not properly managed during a large rain event.”

Milwaukee County has been under an administrative order from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to abate the risk to public safety posed by the Estabrook Dam since 2012. Milwaukee County can abate the nuisance in two ways: repair or remove the dam.

Since 2012, estimated costs for repair have increased every year. Dam repair is estimated to cost four times more than removal, including operation and maintenance. Analyses from engineering firms and the County Parks staff have all recommended removing the Estabrook Dam. And since 2015, more than 1,500 Milwaukee County residents have spoken out in favor of removal.

Despite the public outcry and best information available, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors have never held a straight up and down vote on repairing or removing the dam.  Recent reports have indicated the County is facing a shortfall of $600,000 in the budget to repair the dam, before work has even begun. Bringing the dam down would save Milwaukee County taxpayers more than $2 million in capital costs.

The Milwaukee County Executive, the Milwaukee County Parks Department, the City of Milwaukee, the Village of Shorewood, and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District have all passed resolutions or released statements in the past supporting removal of the Estabrook Dam.

The following groups and organizations support the above statement:
Milwaukee Riverkeeper
River Alliance of Wisconsin
River Revitalization Foundation
Trout Unlimited
Urban Ecology Center

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