Conservation club fix is ‘a work in progress’September 19, 2017
By CANDY NEAL
The Huntingburg Conservation Club is still trying to figure out a way to fix the lake’s dam, which has been closed since this spring.
Local officials will meet with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Thursday to discuss the issue.
“We are going to sit down with the DNR and propose a situation where we can get the dam fixed now,” Bernie Main of the conservation club said Monday evening.
Heavy rains that hit the area in late April and early May exposed a problem with the dam’s drainage. Because there was too much rain for the dam to handle, the water washed away some of the bank around the dam and underneath the road. For safety reasons, the lake and the section of County Road 100 West that includes the dam were closed indefinitely.
Main, County Engineer Brent Wendholt and an engineer from Cash Waggner & Associates will be at Thursday’s meeting. Wendholt told the Dubois County Commissioners Monday afternoon that the group will discuss options to see what the state officials will require.
“There are easy fixes,” he said. “I just don’t know if DNR will go for those.”
Main told the commissioners previously that the club was looking at repairing the spillway, which would include temporarily dropping the lake level, building a temporary levy in front of the dam, moving the culvert from the center to the north end of the dam and building a larger spillway for the natural water flow.
Main has since talked to DNR officials over the phone. “We proposed some things and they came back and proposed some things,” he said. “So we’re working on the compromise. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
While the proposal has changed some, Main said “it’s the same type of situation, where we may have to bring our dam up to code with the DNR, to their specifications.
“But in the way that it may take it out of the DNR’s jurisdiction,” he said.
Since the lake and dam are taller than 20 feet, repairs must meet state and federal guidelines, which are under DNR’s jurisdiction. The dam and lake were built in 1954 and have not been significantly changed in that time, although state and federal rules have changed.
“We’re looking to redesign it in a way that may bring us down below that 20-foot level,” Main said. “The DNR has to say yay or nay on this. We don’t know what they will say.”
Main said the club is pursuing every avenue to get the lake and county road open to the public again. And they are continuing to look for grants and funding for the work.
“We’re trying to propose a cost-effective method for the club and get the lake reopened and for the county to get the road reopened,” Main said. “We’re still trying, still pushing forward. It’s a work in progress.”
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