Green light for Gorge Dam removal

Summit Metro Parks
2 min readJan 18, 2024

Stephanie Walton, Chief of Marketing & Communications

The Gorge Dam, circa 2001. Photo by JJ. Prekop Jr.

On October 25, 2023, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) announced a project agreement to begin the removal of the 420-foot-wide, 60-foot-tall dam within Gorge Metro Park. The agreement means the plan to remove the dam has officially moved into reality. The dam is one of the largest unresolved impediments to restoring the water quality of the Cuyahoga River and its removal will improve river ecology, create recreational opportunities and drive economic benefits in our community.

Before the dam itself can be deconstructed, we must first remove nearly one million cubic yards of sediment that has accumulated behind it over the past century. The sediment contains contaminants consistent with our area’s industrial past, and it will be safely transported and placed at a permanent storage area within the Chuckery Area of Cascade Valley Metro Park. Tree clearing for that site is already complete, and sediment removal is expected to begin in 2024.

Learn more about the process to remove the Gorge Dam in the video above.

Tentative Project Timeline

(subject to change)

2023–24

Begin stabilization at the former power plant site and construction of the sediment disposal area.

2024

Award contract for sediment remediation project. Removal and disposal of sediment begins. Cascade Valley Metro Park (Chuckery Area) and Gorge Metro Park closed during operations.

2025–26

Stabilized dredged material sculpted into natural-appearing landform, seeded and planted with trees. Park closures continue.

2026 & beyond

Dam deconstruction; park and river restoration. Some park closures may continue.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan speaks to a crowd of partners gathered at Gorge Metro Park to celebrate the new project agreement (2023).

Project partners are coordinating closely to minimize disruptions to the public during sediment remediation and dam deconstruction, but park and trail closures will be unavoidable. Gorge Metro Park, Highbridge Trail and the Chuckery Area will be closed for public safety over the next several years.

The project agreement is signed by U.S. EPA, Ohio EPA, City of Akron, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and FirstEnergy. Now in its seventh year, the dam removal project is managed by a group of partners that also includes the City of Cuyahoga Falls, County of Summit, Summit County Council, Summit Metro Parks, The University of Akron and Ohio Lake Erie Commission.

To learn more about the project and sign up for email updates, visit bit.ly/freethefalls.

For more stories like this, check out Green Islands magazine, a bi-monthly publication from Summit Metro Parks. Summit County residents can sign up to receive the publication at home free of charge.

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Summit Metro Parks

Summit Metro Parks manages 15,000 acres, 16 parks, three nature centers and more than 150 miles of trails. Find more at www.summitmetroparks.org.