City officials, DNR to meet over Wilmington dam

MIGHT THE DAYS be dwindling for the Wilmington dam? City aldermen and the mayor will meet Thursday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the fate of the dam with state officials.


The Kankakee River dam has been both a local landmark and a thorn in the side of city leaders for decades.
This week, the city will host a public meeting in an effort to come up with some reasonable solutions for the dam, including whether the time has come to finally say goodbye to it.
On Thursday, the Wilmington City Council will meet for a special 5:30 p.m. session. On the agenda—discussion of Millrace and Kankakee River dams with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Water Resources (IDNR), and State Representatives.
The meeting will include a portion for public comment following an informational session with those experts from the IDNR as well as with state reps.
Last week, Mayor Ben Dietz made available to the public a 215-page informational packet regarding the history and controversy of the dam, which has taken at least 15 lives sine 1982.
Since 2012, city leaders have engaged in back and forth with the IDNR regarding the dam. While the city has at times been willing to make the transfer to the state for removal, such a transfer has been with the stipulation that the Millrace would remain in tact even after the dam is removed, thus preserving Wilmington’s identity as “The Island City.”
In 2014, the IDNR responded to the city that the singular issue is the removal of the dam, and that state funding would only apply to removal, and would not be available to preserve the Millrace if needed.
In 2017, the city pursued the idea of adding riprap to the base of the dam, but ultimately that idea was scrapped.
Now there are three options on the table. To learn more about those options and the personal viewpoint from Dietz, read the Sept. 8 edition of the Free Press Newspapers available to online subscribers or in local stores.