Last Sunday, I poked around at the dam with Russ Yarger, Mark Englerth, Vivian Conner, and 2 gentlemen (whose names I didn’t get) – freaking out some passers-by who thought we had another failure happening…LOL! We created some furrows for water to follow, to protect the aging culverts under Marsh Rd; and to assess how much water is leaking under the dam.
The dam is definitely allowing water to pass below it – the rocks that are securing it into place are large, so it’s somewhat porous underneath. The dam itself is fine – it’s still VERY secure. The amount of water seeping underneath is probably not draining the lake as fast as the normal evaporation that takes place every summer. People have commented that the lake level is low – but I’ve seen it lower than this in my 21 years of living here. My neighbor wondered if the entirety of the dam has sunken with the addition of 400,000 lbs of rocks (let’s face it – Barry County is just a swamp anyway) and while I doubt that, once we get an engineer hired, hopefully they will measure that aspect?
I figured we could have Russ dump some smaller gravel in front of the dam, hoping it would plug some of the holes?? Mark Englerth says there’s a special concrete that would plug the bottom for good – he knows this kind of stuff because he’s done it before. But the governmental wheels are slowly turning – the dam is now under the ownership of the Barry County Dep’t of Public Works. Department head Michael Brown plus the Barry Commissioners are reviewing the applications of 4 engineers who have applied for the job of replacing the dam. New DEQ permits will have to be applied-for, and some of those may require “public comment” for 90 days. While it would certainly make sense to replace/repair the dam during its late-summer into-winter low water point, I don’t see that happening this year.
The Barry County Road Commission would also like to replace the aging/failing culverts under Marsh Rd where it crosses the headwaters of the Gun River, at the same time the dam gets fixed. That way, traffic on Marsh Rd will just have one time period where it gets re-routed; as a rule, they don’t like to block lake access roads during the summer high-traffic months. I’m going to look into my crystal ball and say this is a project for late 2017?
I’ll also squelch a rumor before it gets started: one of the advantages of the Barry Road Commission tagging onto the dam replacement project, is financing. We don’t pay a Road Millage in Barry County, so the money to replace those culverts has to come from somewhere. Joint financing is a good solution. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE LAKE RESIDENTS WILL BE PAYING FOR THE BRIDGE REPLACEMENT. The cost for the dam will be shared lakewide-and-beyond: the dam controls the water level for Gun, and Payne, and maybe more; plus there will be a downstream assessment, too. (Russ said that as dams go, this one will be “pretty cheap”). The dam also protects valuable farmland downstream – there could be a couple thousand households sharing this expense? But the bridge passes over the Gun River. About a half-mile downstream, it becomes the Gun River Intercounty Drain….. but by the Grace of God, our little bit to be spanned is “river”, not “drain”. In this case, the residents do NOT have to pay for the new bridge.