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Village DPW to make short term dam repairs

May 08, 2013 - Goodrich-On Tuesday morning engineers from WadeTrim, along with village council members, gathered for a study session regarding the village dam and mill pond.

In the spring of 2012 the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality inspected the century-old village dam and required some significant repairs to the structure. Currently, only three of the five wooden flood gates, which move up and down to regulate the amount of water and the level of the mill pond, are operational. Two of the gates remain stationary. The state inspector required the village to remove the two stationary gates and replace with moveable gates.

According to a dam report provided from the MDEQ mill pond dam safety inspection, the village has a deadline of May 27 to make the necessary repairs and modifications to the dam. The work is necessary, say MDEQ officials, for the safety of the community. This same request was made by the MDEQ in 2004 and 2008 inspections and has not yet been completed, according to WadeTrim's report. It is essential to be able to remove the stoplogs and lift gates from all five spillway bays in order to safely pass the design flood, MDEQ engineers added. In addition, within the next five years the village should develop a long-term plan for the future of the dam including a structural analysis for the long-term stability as well as a feasibility study for repair, replacement, or removal of the spillway.

Following the April 3 meeting with the village, engineers from WadeTrim prepared a action plan regarding the lift gates to meet the MDEQ requirements and deadline. The temporary modifications to the powerhouse inlet gates would cost the village $21,000. The price, which included a contingency of 25 percent or $4,000, was not accepted by village officials.

"You're going to flood downstream if we open those two additional gates," said Village Councilmember Pete Morey, who, along with the village Department of Public Works, has operated the dam for the past 10 years. "The state wants that done as a fail safe—that allows for a lot of water over the dam, they are not going to want that much water."

Morey and the rest of the council recommended the village DPW make the necessary repairs to the dam. However, at a cost of about $3,500, WadeTrim will provide a plan and help represent the village during an upcoming meeting with the MDEQ.

If approved by the MDEQ, the modification to the dam will require the water lowered by about four feet.

"The amount of time the water will be down will depend on if we can remove the old gates," said Morey.

While the short term work should be completed this summer, WadeTrim also provided three conceptual modification plans which included costs to consider.

Dave Anthony of WadeTrim, provided approaches, restoration, and methods to preserve the impoundment of the village dam. The discussion featured a series of options for the village also incorporating recreational enhancements and public access as well as improving the fisheries of the Kearsley Creek

"The biggest variable will be the embankment," said Anthony. "There's seepage under the road. How big that void in the berm is will not be known until we get into the project more. The other issue is the eight feet of sediment that's around the dam—once the water is gone it would look like a swamp. There's a very good chance that dredging would be required and that would be costly."

Before a long-term game plan is selected for the village a comprehensive study that would provide an understanding how a project is going to look. Costs on the project could exceed $2 million which includes 25 percent or $400,000 contingency.

"Our recommendation would be to do the Mill Pond modifications over a five to 10-year period funded by a series of grants. For example, a canoe or kayak launch and preservation of the historic mill pond dam could be funded by recreation or historical grants."

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