Governor's Lake Delhi Task Force final meeting - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Governor's Lake Delhi Task Force final meeting

MARION (KWWL) -- The Governor's Lake Delhi Task Force held its last meeting Tuesday to present its findings to the public.

This comes four months after the Lake Delhi dam broke due to heavy flooding in July. The breach left an exposed lake bed, and some homeowners even lost their entire house to the flood.

It has been four months since the dam-break, and the lake bed is still littered with boat docks, watercraft and other debris. That's one concern brought up at the final task force meeting, as homeowners in the Lake Delhi taxing district of more than 840 properties look to the next step in the restoration of the lake.

People at Tuesday's meeting in Marion City Hall stressed the closure of the Lake Delhi Task Force is not the final step in planning.

There remains, however, the question of transitioning from Governor Culver's administration, which has played a substantial role in researching the lake restoration - to that of Governor-Elect Branstad.

Lake Delhi Recreation Association president Jim Willey said the LDRA has met with Branstad, "and he has committed to us that he will work with us to bring Lake Delhi back," Willey said.

According to Willey, the next step is the engineering and permitting for a new dam.

"Without any hitches in the process, we're hoping that by early spring we will have the permitting process well underway or possibly completed," he said. "We'll have the funding identified and be able to move forward to get the actual rebuilding underway."

Willey said the LDRA and other entities are still investigating options for funding, but they include public utilities and the possible incorporation of the tax district into a municipality.

Several lake property owners, including part time resident Dave Fry, conducted an economic impact study of restoring the lake.

"We have a lot of people that have to replace a lot of the things that they lost, in terms of from boat lifts and boats and rebuilding of their facilities, their cabins, their lake houses," Fry said.

He said the study shows property owners would put more than $200 million into the regional economy in the course of repairs, but that's only once they see the restoration of the lake as a done deal.

However, Willey said he's never doubted that the lake would return.

Dam operations manager Dave Fink said the dam was built in the 1920s, and, since then, an increase in land use such as tiling and parking lots has increased the watershed. He said a design for a new dam will include a spillway - one that can handle the kind of rain even that destroyed the dam in July.

Online Reporter: Becca Habegger

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