GRAND RAPIDS (AP) – A $27 million plan is designed to put the “rapids” back in Grand Rapids.

The Grand Rapids Whitewater project would remove the Grand River’s low-rise dams downtown and restore rocks and shoals to the riverbed.

Originally begun by a group of kayaking enthusiasts, Grand Rapids Whitewater has expanded to a full-scale restoration effort aimed at naturalizing the river as it falls 18 feet through downtown Grand Rapids.

The project was added to the Urban Waters Federal Partnership in May, putting it on a fast track for federal regulatory approvals and grants.

It will not add to flooding risks, said Jason Carey, an engineer who developed the restoration plans for Grand Rapids Whitewater.

“Our project really focuses on the low river flow, what’s happening around 2,500 cfs (cubic feet per second) of flow,” Carey, the principal river engineer for River Restoration of Glenwood Springs, Colo., told The Grand Rapids Press.

Plans to remove dams and restore shoals to the downtown river bed won’t make a difference when the river reaches flood levels, Carey said.

Carey, who has studied the Grand River over several years, said he monitored last April’s flooding and found no concerns related to the project’s impact on flooding risks.

Grand Rapids City Manager Eric DeLong agrees.

He said city engineers are working closely with the Grand Rapids Whitewater team and believe the plan to restore the rapids to the river through downtown will “have an overall neutral or positive effect” on flood mitigation efforts.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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