Estabrook Dam Removal


2019 Engineering Excellence Award | State Finalist

Entering Firm: AECOM Technical Services Inc.
Client: Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
Category: Water Resources

The Estabrook Dam in Milwaukee County was in desperate need of a change; it had to be removed completely or repaired to be usable.AECOM Technical Services helped local officials and the public navigate between these two options to the best outcome.

The public was very vocal on the proposals for the dam and was involved during the entire process. While the dam itself hadn’t operated for almost a decade, the remaining structure impacted the neighborhood and polarized opinions on repair or removal. The design team assisted with public outreach to demonstrate that removing the dam would lead to better hydrological control, reduce flooding and improve the marine environment. By the time the dam was ready for removal, a public hearing process indicated that over 85 percent of the public comments favored dam removal. From there, AECOM Technical Services removed the dam and the assorted support pieces and redesigned the Milwaukee River in that spot to accommodate the new flow. A free-flowing environment promotes mussel population growth which are a building block for the full marine ecosystem.

The project truly demonstrates that a combination of political cooperation and will, combined with engineering diligence, can result in projects that simultaneously provide a public benefit with true cost savings. In this case, the solution met all expectations and significantly improved the aquatic quality of Milwaukee’s biggest river.

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