Solution found for dam repairs at club


HUNTINGBURG — County Road 100 West and the Huntingburg Conservation Club’s dam should reopen this fall, if all goes according to the state-sanctioned solution plan.

That will include lowering the lake by about 5 feet, installing a new culvert and repairing the spillway.

“It will reduce the size of our lake. But we will be out of the DNR’s jurisdiction,” Club President Bernie Main said Wednesday. “We will be able to fix it this way, which makes it more affordable for us.

“It will be the same usage. It will just be a smaller lake.”

County Engineer Brent Wendholt told the Dubois County Commissioners last week that a solution has been found.

“If all goes as planned, the road will be opened in October,” he said, adding that work has to be done by the club and county, and paving the road will be done in the spring.

The lake and section of the county road that goes across the lake’s dam has been closed since the spring of 2017. Heavy rains that hit the area in late April and early May of that year 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 County Road 100 West.

For safety reasons, the lake and the section of County Road 100 West that includes the dam were closed indefinitely until repairs can be made. The repairs must be up to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ standards since the lake and dam are taller than 20 feet.

Club officials have since been working on various ideas for a solution that would preserve the lake and road. The county has kept the road closed to give the club time to find that solution.

At times, the relationship between the two was a little tense, with the county urging the club to implement a plan so the road could reopen and the club stating that it needed more time to find an affordable solution. Another issue involved determining what parts of the matter should be taken care of by the club and which parts were the county’s responsibility. The club submitted different ideas to the state over that time.

DNR determined that lowering the lake should be part of the solution. Lowering the level will take the lake down from 24 feet to 19.6 feet tall. The lake’s size will shrink from 12 acres to about 10 acres.

The club is going to install a new box culvert under the road at the north end of the dam, Main said. The 50-foot culvert will be 3 feet tall and 8 feet wide, and will remove the overflow of water from the lake to downstream.

The club is also going to build a new spillway structure that will “let the water flow down to the existing creek below the dam,” Main said. He estimated the work costing about $50,000.

The DNR has approved the design and the club is waiting for two permits to be approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which could take up to two months. Once those are received, the work can start, Main said. The county will help with dirt and some repair work.

County and club officials are also working on a written agreement that will state which group is responsible for future maintenance and repairs in the area.

“It was never cut clear whose responsibility was what. Brent and I are making sure to do our due diligence to clear that up,” Main said. “So if something happens 30 years from now, all this paperwork will be filed so that somebody can go back and look at it, and not have to guess what should have been done and whose responsibility is what.”

So this fall, after two years of being closed, the ongoing work between the club, county and state will finally get County Road 100 West reopened and the conservation club’s lake in use again.

“It was a good collaboration,” Main said.

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