The decision to drain the lake hit another snag when the Manawa Common Council met Monday, Jan. 16.
A short-term draw down is needed in order to repair the dam in 2012, as determined by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). A long-term draw down of 12 to 14 months would help with weed control.
“Water is seeping through the dam,” said Martin Kemps, project engineer with the consulting firm Mead & Hunt.
“The DNR recognized a serious problem that needs to be fixed,” stated John McCutcheon, dam safety officer with North American Hydro.
“The work has to be done this year – we do not have an option,” he added.
The city of Manawa owns the dam, while North American Hydro owns and operates the turbines within the dam that generate electricity.
Repairs to the dam could cost about $200,000, Kemps told the council. The estimate includes a 20 percent contingency.
“We have to drill into wood lumber, making it hard to estimate cost,” he explained
Repairs include filling the void in the dam to stop the seepage, and replacing concrete to extend the life of the dam. About 80 cubic yards of concrete would be needed.
The process would need to begin as soon as the ice melted (April) in order to have time for a 10-foot draw down and for the repairs to be completed before October, which is the timeframe allowed by the DNR.
According to Kemps, the actual dam work would take about five weeks. He noted the proposed repairs will extend the dam’s life for up to 20 years.
McCutcheon explained that a DNR permit would be required for a long-term draw down of the lake. That process would probably take more than 60 days.
“I don’t think that can be done in our time frame,” he said, noting that an extended draw down would also cost more money.
According to McCutcheon, the city would need to reimburse North American Hydro for lost generation during a long-term draw down.
Mayor Deb Nolan asked if a reimbursement would be required during the short-term draw down for dam repairs.
“The cost associated with lost generation is not for me to discuss,” McCutcheon replied.
After Kemps and McCutcheon exited, the council and representatives from the town of Little Wolf briefly discussed the dam options. Most council members commented that their questions were not answered.
One question concerned why the city was responsible for the total cost of repairing the dam.
Another question concerned the city’s profit from the electricity generated by the dam’s turbines.
According to City Clerk Cheryl Hass, the city has received annual checks of $600 to $2,000 from North American Hydro. She noted that recently there has been no paperwork to substantiate the amounts.
The council was told that the city attorney had reviewed the current contract, which will automatically renew in 2014 (every 15 years) unless it is renegotiated. He had recommended that the council take no action at this time.