ELIZABETH BOROUGH (KDKA) — The Army Corps of Engineers is set to demolish the old Elizabeth Dam sometime in 2024. The demolition is expected to speed up commercial navigation on the river, but could disrupt fish habitats.
To prepare for the imminent demolition, a giant crane has been picking up massive buckets of rock and one after another, dumps them in the Monongahela River, near Elizabeth Borough.
"The purpose of today's project is to mitigate the tail water effect we're going to lose from the removal of the Elizabeth Lock and Dam," said Claire Murphy, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, after the dam is no longer there, it will essentially create miles open to boating, recreation and unobstructed fish passage.
"We've got walleye, bass, muskie. Different kinds of bass we fish for around here," said Kristina Shultz, a biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
When the dam is gone and the water flow changes, all of the ricks will provide the following for marine river life.
"These fish reefs provide habitat for fish within the area and some shallow water areas to spawn during the spawning season," Shultz said.
This isn't the only place this kind of operation is going on along the river ways in the area.
"There will be 73 reefs total in five segments from Braddock, all the way down to Charleroi. This is exciting for the fish, but also for boaters and recreational users of the lower Monongahela River," Schultz added.
The rock reefs won't extend into the channel, but recreational boaters will have to take them into account when playing the waters of the Monongahela River.
"There's about three feet of clearance in some areas that's shallower. So, we caution boaters to be careful when they're out and around these structures and to consult the navigation charts we have at the LRP Website," said Murphy.
To see a map of the reefs, click here for more.
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