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Canal rewatering on track to finish by Thanksgiving

Pipework installation has started, mayor says

The rewatering project on the Illinois and Michigan Canal in Ottawa should be completed by Thanksgiving – and maybe sooner.

Ottawa Mayor Dan Aussem said the city has awarded a bid to build the pumphouse, which will direct water from the Fox River near Guion Street into the canal, and work installing the pipes started last week.

The pipe was donated by NPL and Operating Engineers Local 150, and Local 597 volunteered its time and labor to install the pipe.

“The original goal is to use it for recreation,” Aussem said. “Canoeing and kayaking. The plan is that we’re going to stock it with fish and teach kids how to fish, then every year we’d drain everything down to get rid of the fish and just restock it.”

Aussem said he’s hoping to see tourism grow from the new recreation, but he understands that the timing, because of COVID-19, isn’t the best.

Ottawa’s stretch of the canal was active from the 1840s through the 1900s and was emptied in 1933. The project to rewater the canal has been ongoing since 2003, and the Ottawa Canal Association was created in 2008 to spearhead the project, as reported in an Aug. 4 Times article.

The bed was treated in August with a chemical liner designed to hold water, preventing it from soaking into the ground.

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