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City of Grand Rapids files Grand River restoration application with state

Grand River, downtown Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids WhiteWater
Grand River, downtown Grand Rapids

In December, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy objected to the wave features in the Grand River restoration design. The City of Grand Rapids withdrew its application. After making design modifications, the application has been filed with the state.

Fifteen years have passed since Grand Rapids Whitewater first envisioned revitalizing the Grand River flowing through downtown Grand Rapids. Restoring its “rapids” for recreation and improving the aquatic ecosystem.

The city of Grand Rapids partnered with nonprofit Grand Rapids Whitewater on the project and its current modified design.

“It is interesting. It will create rapids. It will create whitewater. It will create some sound.”

Steve Heacock is Grand Rapids Whitewater president and CEO.

“Is it as impressive and massive as what we were going to do? No. Is it something that will attract people from Chicago to come kayak? Probably not. But it will be a great improvement from what’s there now.”

Complimenting multiple economic development projects taking shape along the shoreline including new parks and trails. The river restoration has two components: a Lower Reach and an Upper Reach.

“Within this Lower Reach we’re working on right now. That’s from Bridge Street to Fulton Street. That’s an eight-foot drop. The Upper Reach then, is open for discussion. And those discussions will start immediately and really already have on how that will be built. Now, the interesting part on the Upper Reach is that’s where the Great Lakes Fishery Commission will be, that’s the treaty between Canada and the U.S. They’ll be intimately involved because a big part of that will be to build a viable lamprey barrier. And to somehow replace the Sixth Street dam with something that’s designed to stop lamprey from getting up to spawning rivers.”

Heacock tells us the state is working with Grand Rapids Whitewater and the city.

Patrick Center, WGVU News

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.