Dam Repairs With More Bang For The Buck 2/24/20
Taylor County is involved in upgrading and repairing 3 dams. While the Camp 8 and Miller Dam projects don’t have many options, the Chelsea Lake project does offer a choice of 2 methods of repair and upgrades. Those 2 choices bring with them 2 different costs. The top-shelf option brings a cost of about $199,000 for replacement of the spillway structure and extension of downstream slope while a new option has a cost estimate of about $60,000 less, or $131,000.
County board members haggled about the benefits of spending the extra money all while wondering what the extra expenditures would provide. Supervisor Scott Mildbrand indicated that the less expensive option would have an estimated life of 45 years. The higher price option would provide an estimated service life of 80 years. Supervisor Gene Knoll questioned the 80 year service life by saying perhaps the dam itself would be fine for 80 years, but the large earthen berm which comes at the dam on both sides has no guarantee of 80 years. While the county now owns the dam, the large span of the earthen dike is primarily all on private land. One board member quietly chided, and it’s leaking, but that’s not our concern.
To show his support for the less expensive option, Supervisor Scott Mildbrand questioned the logic of putting an overpriced concrete dam structure downstream from an earthen structure. Mr. Mildbrand said he supported the idea of the cheaper option. Supervisor Lester Lewis commented that for too many years Chelsea Lake operated with water levels which were too high which took a toll on the berm and dam. The upgraded dam will provide for a consistent manageable water level. The vote on adapting the higher priced dam repair passed, barely. The final vote count to go along with the $199,000 repair option instead of the $131,000 option passed with 9 yes votes and 8 no votes.
The forestry department will apply for the DNR dam grant cost share program.