Estabrook Dam: Let’s Put It Out of Its Misery

Jun 9, 2014 | Dam Removal

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is chronicling in a four-part series the restoration of the Milwaukee River.  It is an impressive accounting of ecological rebound and economic development that can be generated when a community commits to cleaning up its river.

In one segment of the series, the paper highlights a few catalytic events that brought about the transformation of the Milwaukee River from a sewage conveyor to an amenity that draws tourists, kayakers and real estate developers.  One of them was the removal of the North Avenue dam.  As all removed dams do for rivers, the North Avenue removal improved water quality and provided better access to the river.

Supporters of the wretched slab of concrete and steel known as the Estabrook Dam, on the Milwaukee River in Milwaukee, should take note.  We hope that dam is in its final throes.  It has been staunchly defended by a handful of property owners who seem to think that the public should pay for repairing a dam so they can have a pond in a river that is a resource for the public.

The dam had another hearing on June 5, and there is an on-line survey open for public comment until June 12 offered by Milwaukee County. The survey deadline has passed.

The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources has given the county until December 31 to decide the fate of the dam.  Given what the Journal Sentinel has revealed about what removing a dam can do for that  river, this ought to be an easy call.


The Estabrook dam (below) serves no useful function anymore other than as an obstacle to boaters and worsening water quality of the Milwaukee River. (Photo courtesy Eddee Daniel)