The Iola Village Board apprived dam renovations at its June 13 meeting.
Blueprints of the proposed renovations were presented by Jerry Harvancik, representing the Lake Iola Lake District. The blueprints were created by local resident and licensed engineer Ron Thurston.
The main reason the Lake District is proposing the work is to get a better dam safety reading, according to Harvancik.
He explained the best time to make repairs on the dam is during the drawdown of Lake Iola, which has begun. The plan calls for the replacement of two of the dam’s side gates and reinforcement of the abutements.
A dredging pipe will be placed near the bottom of the dam. The dredging pipe will help remove silt during the current drawdown and in the future without other drawdowns. Harvancik noted that future silt removal must be approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The board asked if the drawdown will help remove silt at the lake’s headwaters.
“Yes, if all the (dam’s) timbers are removed during the drawdown, tons and tons of silt will be released between here and Scandinavia,” Thurston replied. He noted that the DNR was still undecided about how much silt should be removed during the current drawdown and at what rate.
Harvancik said that the dam’s timbers will be removed prior to Oct. 1 and the repairs would be made next spring when the dam is drier.
Board members asked if the drawdown has started and at what rate.
“(The DNR) gave us the regulation not to exceed four inches per day,” said Tom Fucik, who owns Iola Mills and regulates the dam. “We are now at less than two inches per day.”
“There is a good two feet of muck in that lake, which we have been collecting for 50 years,” he said.
Fucik noted there have been two partial drawdowns of the lake since he purchased Iola Mills. Both were conducted in the winter and the water level was only taken down two feet.
“I don’t think the other two drawdowns did any good,” Fucik said.
He said the scheduled two-year drawdown, in theory, should work.
The board asked if the lake will improve enough to allow for swimming. Harvancik replied “no,” but it might decrease the swimmer’s itch problem.
The village board needed to approve the work because the village of Iola owns the dam. Approval will also be needed from the DNR.
All of the dam repairs and improvements will be financed by the Lake District. There is no cost estimate, pending more inspection of the dam during the drawdown.
People with lake property who want to make repairs or restorations, no matter how minor, should contact the DNR to inquire whether permits are required. They may direct inquiries to Ted Johnson at 920-787-4686, ext. 3017.