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Posted 5/6/2013

Release no. USCG


MARSEILLES, Ill. (May 6) — In order to facilitate further repair work at Marseilles Dam, the Unified Command has announced plans for a 4-foot drawdown of the Marseilles navigation pool to be executed Friday.

The Marseilles Dam was damaged during an incident April 18 when seven barges broke loose from a tow during historic flooding on the Illinois River.

Four of the seven barges have been removed through salvage operations, but those operations have been suspended as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to repair the dam and construct a rock dike just below the dam. This dike will help reduce river flows and facilitate repairs to the dam. The dike may also assist the Corps in maintaining the navigational pool upstream of the Marseilles Lock and Dam.

The required drawdown is being implemented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard and the barge industry. Mike Cox, Chief of Operations Division for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, said the reason for the drawdown is to reduce river flows at the dam.

"Lowering the water levels will reduce the volume of water flowing through the broken gates," he said. "This reduction will result in less erosive forces placed on the rock dike and facilitate safe completion of the dike."

According to Cox, the decision to draw down the pool was extensively evaluated and was one of many alternatives considered to reduce flows.

"Our engineers and the Unified Command are looking at alternatives to the drawdown to reduce flow to include placement of 3,000-pound sand bags above the dam," Cox said. "At this time it appears the drawdown will be necessary to facilitate completion of the rock dike."

Navigation notices have been coordinated and broadcasted to mariners who may be affected by the drawdown.

The Unified Command also announced that lockages for recreational vessels have begun and will take place each afternoon while navigation conditions allow. Vessels needing to transit southbound through the Marseilles Locks can do so at 3:30 p.m. Recreational vessels needing to transit northbound through the Marseilles Locks will be able to do so at 4:15 p.m. All vessels transiting in the vicinity of the Marseilles Lock canal should proceed with extreme caution due to hazards associated with channel obstructions, ongoing dike construction operations, heavy commercial vessel traffic, and floating debris leftover from flood waters. Boaters can contact the 24-hour Coast Guard Marseilles Lock Watch at 630-336-0300 if they have any questions or concerns regarding transiting in the vicinity of the Marseilles Lock and Dam.

The Coast Guard established a persistent website to keep the public informed of ongoing operations and provide the latest Unified Command updates on vessel transit restrictions for the Illinois River between the Starved Rock and Dresden Dams. Information can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/marseillesdamincident <http://tinyurl.com/marseillesdamincident> .