To many Batavians, the sight of the Fox River pouring over the Batavia Dam next to the Challenge Factory is an iconic view in the city.
Recently, the city installed a system of signs and lighting that impact the riverfront, but are intended to prevent a tragic loss of life.
Low head dams such as the Batavia Dam are dangerous because they create a vortex of water called a boil below the dam. The powerful, revolving current acts as an undertow trap. It has been known to pull individuals underwater, where they either drown or require rescue if emergency responders can arrive in time.
Due to the design of these dams, dangerous incidents such as these can occur even during periods of normal or low water flow on the Fox River.
Low head dams pose a particular risk to people who may carelessly or accidentally fall into the water near the dam.
The signage system now installed is designed to warn people to stay back from the riverbank, to discourage walking on the dam structure and to avoid walking on building infrastructure surrounding the dam.
The signage is also installed to warn boaters, canoeists and kayakers not to venture close to the dam. In many seasons and river conditions, there is a risk of being swept over the dam. All such incidents pose risks to first responders should a water rescue be required near the dam.
The city of Batavia recently received a legal determination that it owns the Fox River dam structure. The city retained the services of an attorney specializing in land ownership issues to gain insight on the matter.
The city had the dam inspected by a third party and received recommendations specific to what size and type of signage and lighting are recommended in the vicinity of low head dams in Illinois. To reduce the risk of injury or drowning, the city of Batavia has installed this recommended safety signage system near the low head dam.
Public safety is the utmost priority and obligation of the city of Batavia. Therefore, prevention of accidents and reduction of life-threatening risks around this structure have been implemented to the maximum possible extent and must take precedence over aesthetics.
Questions about the Batavia Dam can be directed to the Batavia Public Works Department at 630-454-2300.
SOURCE: city of Batavia news release