Illinois DNR statement on safety protocol at the Steel Dam

Local News

With the recent incidents involving the Steel Dam on the Rock River in Rock Island, Local 4 reached out to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources inquiring about the safety protocol around the dam and its purpose on the river.

This was the statement we received from Rachel Torbert, the Deputy Director with the Illinois DNR:

The Steel Dam works in conjunction with the Sears Dam to provide necessary river flow to drive turbines which generate electricity at the Sears Powerhouse. IDNR leased both dams to the City of Rock Island which currently operates and maintains the facilities. Because the Steel Dam is part of a hydropower facility, it is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and, as such, the City of Rock Island is required to implement safety measures including signs, buoys and cables which serve as boat barriers.

In addition to the FERC safety requirements applicable to Rock Island, IDNR places buoys upstream of the dam to provide warning of potentially dangerous conditions. DNR also places buoys upstream of all dams owned by the State in Public Waters. IDNR is committed to working with the City of Rock Island to review all possible options for the Steel Dam.

Rachel Torbert, Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

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