Panel moves forward with dam plansDouglas County’s Board of Supervisors approved a plan to pay for repairs to a dam in Washburn County.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Douglas County’s Board of Supervisors approved a plan to pay for repairs to a dam in Washburn County.
The board last week approved creating a special dam assessment district in cooperation with Washburn County to make about $1.1 million in repairs to the dam that creates the Minong and Cranberry flowages.
That decision, coupled with approval of the district by the Washburn County Board, created a board of directors to administer the special assessment district, according to Jeffrey Kohler, Washburn County corporation counsel.
Meetings of the quasi-governmental board are open to the public. The inaugural meeting of the board takes place at 5 p.m. May 9 at the Wascott Town Hall in Douglas County.
During that initial meeting, the board will consider adopting by-laws, appoint two at-large members and elect board officers. The panel will also form notice for property owners affected by the dam assessment and set the next meeting to set the mill rate for the district.
About 60 percent of the property owners who are affected by the dam that creates waterways in both counties live in Wascott.
Douglas County Supervisor Mary Lou Bergman said the impact of drawing down the flowages permanently could be devastating to property owners, property values and tourism — the bread and butter for rural Douglas County’s economy.
The dam, built in 1938, has been declared a high hazard because of its poor condition by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Several cracks were noted and the DNR determined the hydraulic capacity of the dam couldn’t withstand a thousand year flood, like the one that caused extensive damage in the Twin Ports last year.
Reconstruction of the dam is expected to begin later this year, with the draw down to accommodate the work expected to begin by the end of April.
Even the temporary draw down for the reconstruction project is going to have an impact on business in the southern Douglas County town, Bergman said.
The draw down will bring the lake level down about five feet lower than normal elevations, said Washburn County Highway Commission Jon Johnson.
“The Cranberry Lake area will be affected considerably,” Johnson said. He said he anticipates there will still be water in the middle of Cranberry Lake but shallower areas will be drained down during the summer, as construction is going on at the dam.
The project plan calls for refilling the flowages in November, Johnson said. He said the county is going to work with the DNR to limit flow during the dry season in late summer and early fall to help with refilling the flowages.
The $1.1 million construction project, awarded to Staub Construction of Marshfield, Wis., will be paid for in part by a $400,000 grant from the Wisconsin DNR and a $100,000 contribution by Dahlberg Light and Power, which uses the dam for hydro-electric generation.
The balance will be paid by property owners directly affected by the dam through a special assessment, including Washburn County, which won’t be exempt from the assessment.
Property owners can find out if the assessment affects them through a map created to highlight the owners along the flowages. Go to www.co.washburn.