Scuba Divers To Repair Miller Dam 2/24/20
The Taylor County Board continued the paperwork process needed to get the required maintenance on Miller Dam. Miller Dam which creates Taylor County’s largest body of water, the Chequamegon Flowage was constructed in 1964. The cast iron sluice gate and associated components have exceeded their 50 year service life expectancy. Supervisor Chuck Zenner who is chair of the Forestry and Rec. Committee told the board that they have been planning for the dam repairs and by the end of this year the county will have enough money to pay the local share of the 3 dam repair projects at Camp 8, Chelsea Lake and Miller Dam.
The main working portion of the concrete Miller Dam structure is a “sluice gate”. To illustrate the extent of wear on the sluice gate, Mr. Zenner indicated that officials have been cautioned against opening the sluice gate on Miller Dam to prepare for the spring runoff due to fears that possibly once the gate is opened, it may not shut again which could ultimately drain large portions of the flowage. In the meantime, alternative methods can be used to prepare for the spring runoff.
Preliminary cost estimates of replacing the 6 foot by 6 foot sluice gate with an all new stainless steel unit is pegged at approximately $152,000. While maintenance projects don’t typically create interest, this particular project begs a look-see. In order to avoid a water draw down, the plan is to have the project completed underwater by scuba divers. While scuba diving is normally a recreational activity, these scuba divers would be performing heavy work-while under water.
The DNR offers a 50% cost share grant program to help pay for dam repair projects which meet their criteria. After much planning and discussion, the county board voted to authorize the Forestry Department to proceed with the application process for the cost sharing grant. Supervisor Gene Knoll asked how long the repairs and upgrades should last and was told that the new stainless steel hardware should perform for 60 years plus. Following a successful application process it is hoped that the Miller Dam repairs will occur in 2021.