The drawdown of the Little Hope Millpond is under way.
The Waupaca County Parks Committee voted Sept. 21 to comply with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ order to do.
The DNR, on Sept. 4, ordered the county to drain the millpond by Oct. 1 due to safety concerns about the dam. The deadline was then extended to Oct. 15.
County Parks Director Roger Holman said the drawdown will be at a rate of no more than six inches per day.
“We’d like to get the first line of boards out today,” he said after Friday’s vote.
During the committee meeting, members of the public reiterated their concerns.
Bob Van Epps is concerned about how the drawdown will impact the former landfill located in Dayton that was once used by Dayton, Farmington and Lind.
Bruce Golding, who has lived on one side or the other of the Crystal River for almost 65 years, was among those who brought up doing a partial drawdown of the millpond.
Linda Hyatt, the DNR’s watershed supervisor for the Upper Fox River Basin, said the dam is in failure mode and that its condition is serious enough for the DNR to order a drawdown now.
She said the dam is old, eroded and its asphalt and concrete are eroding. “We can’t tell what’s going on inside,” she said, in regard to why a full drawdown is being required.
“The order is based solely on safety conditions,” Hyatt said. “We have a long and strong program in the state on dam safety.”
She also said that a full drawdown is necessary so that the dam can be inspected.
“Until we have a dam failure analysis and a repair or reconstruction plan, we have a serious situation out there. We need a full drawdown,” she said.
Under the terms of the order from the DNR, the county has three options regarding the dam.
The county may transfer the dam to a taxing entity, such as a lake district, which the Dayton Town Board discussed on Sept. 18.
At that meeting, the board approved a proposal to create a lake district.
“The process has been started,” said Chris Klein, who is the Dayton town chairman.
A public hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Dayton town hall to confirm the boundaries of the lake district.
The Little Hope Lake District formation would then be scheduled for final action at the Oct. 16 town board meeting.
The county has until December 2013 to decide which option to pursue.
The drawdown of the millpond is expected to be for at least two years.
Holman warns area residents that the bottom of the millpond will not be safe for people, pets and snowmobiles until the silt stabilizes and dries.
He also said the county does not know what the deeds say, meaning the bottom of the millpond might be private property.