On August 19, the University of Notre Dame and South Bend’s Venues Parks & Arts broke ground on a 2.5-megawatt hydroelectric generation facility on the dam in the St. Joseph River in downtown South Bend, near Seitz Park. Mostly underground, the new facility is expected to generate about 7% of the University’s electrical needs and offset nearly 9,700 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
In an effort to reduce the University's carbon emissions and become better stewards of the Earth, the University reached an agreement with the City of South Bend in 2016 to lease the site for 50 years. The city was able to transfer a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission exemption to the University to operate a hydro power plant.
In concert with the hydro plant construction is the restoration of downtown South Bend's Seitz Park. Notre Dame is also partnering with the city to pay the city $1 million to assist with the renovations, which are expected to include a building with restrooms and a vending kiosk, new performance area, improvements to the riverwalk and a new park entrance.