MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — On and off over the past two years an inflatable aqua dam and a large pump was used to control the water level in the south pond at Muskegon County's Veterans Memorial Park. Tuesday morning, workers removed the temporary structure.

Water can once again freely flow between the Muskegon River and the pond.

And for the month of December, flooding at the park will increase as workers begin to build a new fish-passage friendly, water control structure 

"We're nearing the end for this project," said Kathy Evans from the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission.

Evans says the project was conceived in 2014 with construction starting in 2017. 

The project cleared the pond of contaminated muck and removed invasive plants to improve fish and wildlife habitat. The work received funding through the NOAA/Great Lakes Commission Regional Partnership for Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration. 

An earlier stage of the work removed the park's previous water control structure. It had been used for decades to regulate the water level on the south pond.

"The sheet pile around the historic structure was very thin metal and was rusted," Evans said. "There were holes in it, and there had been some propping up under water with some boards and things to keep it from caving in."

The new fish-passage friendly, water control structure will have fiberglass boards that will be easy to manipulate. "Only when the park is flooded," Evans said. "Otherwise it's free flowing passage of water and fish to the pond."

The flooding during construction isn't expected to damage the park's infrastructure, memorials or restored natural resources.

The work is expected to take about one month to complete.

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