Army Corps of Engineers recommends removal of nine Fox River dams

A dam in Montgomery is among nine recommended for removal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Photo by Jack McCarthy/Chronicle Media)

Significant changes may be coming to the Fox River as it flows through Kane and Kendall counties.

The U.S Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago has released a draft report on the Fox River and recommends that  nine dams from Carpentersville to Montgomery be removed.

The multi-year USACE study dated Sept. 5 examined a range of measures to improve water quality, restore habitat and reduce pollution on the Fox River.

It ultimately settled removing dams in Carpentersville, Elgin, South Elgin, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Aurora and Montgomery.

The dam in Carpentersville is already scheduled to be removed by the Kane County Forest Preserve District, which owns the dam.

The project could cost around $15.8 million and the nine dams highlighted in the draft report could be removed by 2030 according to a tentative USACE timetable.

The majority of the dams were built in the mid to late 1800s to power industrial operations and are now obsolete.  The study adds that the dams present a safety concern, are expensive to maintain and have led to a proliferation of invasive plant and animal species in the warm, slow moving pools behind them.

The Fox River Study Group, which is a consortium of municipal and county governments, water reclamation districts and environmental organizations in the watershed, has conducted extensive water quality sampling and river modeling. Their findings suggest that removal of the dams is the most cost effective means to improve water quality concerns, according to the Illinois EPA.

Kane County is a contributing member of the Fox River Study Group.

Proponents of keeping the dams on the Fox River worry that removing them would dramatically change the look of the river and may prohibit the use of certain types of recreational watercraft.

A copy of the report and recommendations are  available online at the following link:

USACE is accepting comments through Monday, November 6, 2023. Comments and/or questions can be sent to.Ryan Johnson, Biologist, at