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Drownings prompt state to inspect 25 public dams

Monday, August 21, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by ESTHER J. CEPEDA Staff Reporter

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn announced a plan Sunday to inspect 25 publicly owned dams across Illinois to avoid more drowning deaths like the seven that have rocked riverfront communities this summer.
The plan is for a state-hired engineering firm to do top-to-bottom inspections of dams on the Fox, Kankakee, Des Plaines, Rock, Sangamon and Vermilion rivers to determine whether existing structures pose public safety risks.
"Some of these dams are more than a century old, and it's important to look at them with 21st century eyes to ascertain what needs to be done," Quinn said.
'To prevent more tragedies'
Quinn said Gov. Blagojevich approved a release of funds through the Capital Development Board to commission the scientific study. Once the competitive bid process yields an engineering firm, the firm will have 180 days to complete the study and present its recommendations to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Capital Development Board.
"I think they'll help us prioritize where we need to act, with great dispatch, to prevent any more tragedies," Quinn said.
The measure is part of the lieutenant governor's Illinois Dam Safety Initiative, which seeks to prevent drowning and injury through use of universal warning signs and buoys, and the modification or removal of dangerous dams.
A dam's deadly undertow killed three men on the Fox River in May. A sister, brother and good samaritan died near a dam on the Kankakee River on Aug. 13. On the same day, a man died in the water near a Rock River dam.


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