Rockford’s Fordham Dam is getting an upgrade. ComEd will complete a series of renovations on it that will allow the dam to open and close automatically. Currently, if the county wants to open the floodgates, administrators have to call ComEd. Both the Winnebago County Sheriff and ComEd say this will allow for a much quicker response to flooding.
“Well the city should be happy. All the cities up and down the Rock River,” said ComEd External Affairs Manager, George Gaulrapp. The Fordham Dam will undergo necessary repairs over the next 10 days. The white beams will soon be the frame for two new electronic gates. As of right now, the Fordham Dam has four hydraulic gates, meaning a ComEd worker has to manually open them.
“We’re moving into the next phase, more of a modern phase of dealing with it,” said Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana. “The Fordham dam should have been dealt with years ago. We’re moving it ahead.”
Flooding is always a concern for homes along the Rock River. Residents are directed to call the Sheriff’s Department and report any flooding concerns. Then, the department has to call ComEd to come out and open the gates “As it starts, we’re looking at the forecast,” said Sheriff Caruana. “As it starts raining and it starts to get above 7’2 to 7’5, I say ‘let’s get the Fordham Dam doors open as quickly as we can.'”
With the new electric gates, the time it takes to get them open will be significantly reduced. “It gives us more capacity either way,” said GaulRapp. “Whether it’s dry time, and block the water off from going down stream, we maintain a recreational pool by Latham or high water up north and get more water out of there as quickly as possible.” The other two gates will remain hydraulic, for now. They could see similar repairs, allowing the dam to be fully automatic.
“If time goes by and those two hydraullic systems go, then we’ll replace those with the electronic systems,” said Gaulrapp.
“It’s going to help out that lag time, where they can just push a button and were moving towards that,” said Sheriff Caruana. “Will it happen right away? We’re working towards that and I’m hoping by Spring it’ll be ready to go.”
The equipment was dropped off on site via helicopter.