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River revival project begins

Cleansing the mahoning

Staff photo / Ashley Fox Raymond Magallon, operator at Metropolitan Environmental Services of Hilliard, beats on a giant balloon mechanism in Lowellville on Friday. The balloon-type equipment is filtering water from the Mahoning River of steel mill sediment. Crews from Marucci and Gaffney Excavating are working on completing the dredging of the river so that the next phase of the revitalization of Lowellville and the river can begin.

LOWELLVILLE — A company from Hilliard filtered steel mill sediment from the Mahoning River on Friday so dredging can begin soon.

The preliminary work is in anticpation of a dam removal project headed by the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments. The plan, developed several years ago, is to remove nine dams from Lowellville to Leavittsburg, moving south to north and removing dams downstream first.

Removal of the dam in Struthers is funded, and that project has moved into the design phase, Joann Esenwein, director of planning for Eastgate, said last month.

The three dams in Youngstown have been funded and are now in the paperwork stage, Esenwein said.

It takes about a year to complete the paperwork required, including environmental agreements, before a design team can be put in place. There are two “real” dams in Youngstown; the third is a dam pool made of rock, Esenwein said.

Sediment will be removed and the banks will be restored, she said.

The entire project on the river is expected to cost about $26 million; approximately half of the funding has been secured. Funding comes from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program.

Eastgate is also looking at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s program for funding.

Flow studies will be done prior to dam removal in Trumbull County because of concerns about the removal of the dam in Girard, which is used by McDonald Steel, and concerns about flooding in Leavittsburg if the dam is removed there, Eastgate officials said previously.

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