The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has informed the city of Manawa that it must repair the Manawa Dam this year.
The city council had hoped to postpone those repairs until it could apply for a grant in 2013.
“We aren’t getting grants,” said City Clerk Cheryl Hass. “The one that we could apply for went by. People told us we couldn’t apply for it because we were federal which we are not. North American Hydro is federal, the owner of the dam is not federal – that’s us. We missed the grant and there won’t be another one until 2013. We are not eligible until 2013 again, and they won’t let us hold off that long.”
Notes from three different conference calls with FERC were given to the council to study. The Manawa Dam situation was discussed at a special council meeting Monday, March 5. It was stated a huge flood wouldn’t be life threatening to residents but the environmental clean-up would be substantial.
Hass said the plan to repair the dam will require a drawdown of the pond that could last four or five months. Once the water is drawn down, the repairs can be made to the dam.
Mead and Hunt, the engineering firm hired by the city, did present another option through a phone conversation. Hass said this option would require putting something in upstream that would slow the water as it got closer to the dam.
“That [option] doesn’t sound any cheaper and it also requires to draw the pond down,” Hass said.
Hass said the city estimates it will cost around $300,000 to repair the dam. She said the city is applying for a loan through the State Trust Fund. The exact repairs that the dam will need can’t be determined until the water is drawn down.
“It’s the same type of loan we got for our street work last year,” Hass said. “We are definitely below the limit as to what we can borrow because we have paid off all our TIF debt now.”
As the pond is being drawn down, Hass said the city will work with the Wisconsin DNR in researching a longer drawdown. The council also wants to see what the costs are for a long-term drawdown, and why those costs would be incurred. It was previously reported that if Manawa opted for a long-term drawdown, it would be required to compensate North American Hydro for lost generation. There would be no compensation during a short-term drawdown.
Little Wolf representatives shared that in their meeting with the DNR, their recommendation is for a long-term drawdown. Different members of the Manawa council stated most people have expressed they would like a long-term drawdown.
It was agreed that before a long-term drawdown is chosen there would be a need for public information and hearings on the topic.
The council voted to call Mead and Hunt for assistance in answering questions on procedure and to proceed with repairs to the Manawa Dam and apply for financing. The council will study and determine funding options for a long term-drawdown.
The city is currently waiting for Mead and Hunt to put the paperwork through and get all the proper approval to start the drawdown.