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Dam repairs delayed

Project may require drawdown

By Bert Lehman

Repairs to the Pigeon River Dam, scheduled for this year, will be pushed back to 2019 and may require lowering the pond’s water level.

Bidding for the Pigeon River Dam repairs was scheduled to open at the April 3 Clintonville Street Committee meeting, but that was postponed to April 20.

At the meeting, Clintonville Public Works Director Kray Brown informed the committee that when the city met with contractors interested in bidding on the repair project, the contractors brought up some major issues.

Committee member Jim Supanich said the dewatering and cofferdam portion of the project are delaying the bid process.

He said six companies were interested in providing the city with a bid. Of those companies, four decided not to submit a bid in the initial offering because of the dewatering.

The two companies that are willing to provide a bid normally do dam projects that range in cost from $1 million to $50 million.

“The impression is that the two quotes we are going to get are way out of our budget line,” Supanich said.

Past estimates have placed the repair costs in the $350,000 to $450,000 range.

This has forced the city to explore other options when it comes to repairing the dam.

Supanich said one of the other options available is to lower the water level of the pond.

“That’s what we’re really considering at this point,” Supanich said.

An addendum was issued to the bid request to include lowering the water to the pond bed, or halfway down, Supanich said.

He added that the city has been in contact with the Pigeon River Association about the situation.

Supanich told the committee that there are some advantages to a water drawdown.

“If we do the drawdown in the winter the chances are we can freeze out a lot if not all of the weeds,” Supanich said. “Second of all, the Pigeon River Association is looking at doing some type of dredging.”

He said the Pigeon River Association was researching hydraulic dredging, but a drawdown would allow a different method, which would be less costly.

Supanich said the disadvantage of a winter drawdown would mean it would last nine months. Another issue would be restocking the pond with fish.

Supanich stressed that nothing has been decided, and everything is still open for discussion.

The current plan for the dam repairs is to bid the alternative and apply for a grant with the hope that some of the repair costs will be covered by the grant. That application is due in May.

“From that point on we’re going to have to make some hard decisions on how we’re going to go forward,” Supanich said.

Brown said the city would host informational meetings during the process. He said the actual repairs to the dam would take place in 2019, not this year as scheduled.

Supanich said that applying for the grant this year meets the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ requirement that the city address the dam repairs this year.

“Some work has to be done on the pond either way to keep it viable because there are two problems developing,” Supanich said. “With the amount of weeds that we have in there the oxygen content in the pond is falling and as it continues to fall we’re going to lose the fish anyway. The other end of it is all of the deep holes, which some of the predator fish like, are silting up. … So we have to deepen the pond, and if we can choke off the weeds with the freeze-out, we’ll raise the oxygen content. We’ll make better fishing. The pond will look much better.”

There will be much discussion throughout the entire process, Supanich said.

“We have to make sure that people understand and feel comfortable that a drawdown of the lake is going to help everybody,” Supanich said. “And that’s what we have to strive for. To make sure they understand the benefits of what’s going to come out of this.”

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