“The Corps has a record of accomplishing what they set out to do,” Simpson added. “And they're not pro-dam or anti-dam – they’re longtime dam owners and operators and they’ve also helped with removal projects, so they’re simply project people.”
Later this year, the Army Corps will begin work on the feasibility study, which will determine the ecological benefits to dam removal and include a cost-benefit analysis. The study is required by the federal government before the Army Corps can fund a dam removal project.
The Army Corps’ role will be similar to that of a consultant for the City: Corps staff will conduct the research, and City staff will support their efforts by providing needed documents and data. The initial $100,000 of the study’s costs will be fully covered with federal funds, while any further costs will be split equally between the Corps and the City. The study will span between 18-24 months.
Community engagement and outreach is a federal requirement the Corp must fulfill while completing the study, so community members can expect engagement opportunities to be announced throughout the process. Opportunities may include open houses, surveys, and online feedback tools.
After the feasibility study is complete, the City and River Falls Utility Advisory Board will review the study’s conclusions and decide whether to move forward with the agency's proposal.
“The involvement of the Army Corps is another step toward the evolution of the Kinni River Corridor,” Peterson said. “A restored Kinni holds so many possibilities. We could turn the faces of our downtown buildings toward the river. We could build a pavilion for performances. We could construct more bridges and trails so that you could walk from outside of town on the north side all the way down along the river. I liken it to what so many other river cities and towns have done – they have miles of trails that leave from their downtown, they have residential development in their downtown, and there are people and activity there all the time. That just makes you want to be there and be part of it.”