'Monumental' step: Lake Delhi trustees seek bids for dam reconstruction
Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Lake Delhi board president Steve Leonard holds up 400-page final bid package, approved Monday night
DELHI (KWWL) -
After three and a half years, Delaware County's Lake Delhi is now ready and able to usher in the reconstruction of its dam.
Heavy rains in July 2010 broke the Lake Delhi dam, sending the contents of the lake crashing down the Maquoketa River.
The former lake is now just the Maquoketa River, winding through a dry lake bed.
At a Monday evening meeting in Delhi's Maquoketa Valley Middle School, the seven members of the Lake Delhi Combined Recreational Facility & Water Quality District board of trustees voted unanimously to begin the bidding process for the first of two construction phases in the lake restoration process.
That came as a direct result of last week's news that the US Army Corps of Engineers issued the board the federal permit needed in order to go ahead with rebuilding the dam.
"Tonight is a pretty monumental night for us," board president Steve Leonard said Monday.
Some 30 Lake Delhi property owners gathered at the meeting, including Wayne and Jenny Garvin. They live on the lake and have owned property there for 17 years.
"The economic cash cow in the county is this lake, and, without it, everybody is hurting," Wayne Garvin said.
As a result of the lost lake, the Garvins' property value dropped, "by half or more," he said.
It's a situation the couple shares with hundreds of other Lake Delhi property owners.
The good news on the lake's progress at Monday night's meeting sparked high morale.
"It's been a long time coming for our community," Leonard said. "There's been lost jobs, there's been businesses that have just been barely hanging on. We've had lost values in our property and, quite honestly, the school and everyone else around our local community's been impacted by this."
If all goes according to plan, he said, Lake Delhi could be restored by 2015.
Several entities have called for restoration plans to include more public access.
The board has responded to that request, Leonard said.
"We have an agreement with Delaware County, a cautionary agreement, that will put into place an additional boat ramp, additional beach, additional parking, additional restroom...all around the Turtle Creek Cove area," he said, which is close to Delaware County's Turtle Creek Park.
The agreement also includes a public access point for paddlers at the actual dam, for portaging.
That brings the total number of public access points to four, Leonard said: the dam, Turtle Creek Cove, one at Hartwick Marina and the other at Bailey's Ford.
Phase one construction includes rebuilding the dam, and construction will begin this spring if the bidding process goes according to schedule.
"Phase two is the creation of a brand new spillway, which will increase the capacity of the water flow by more than double than what we had originally, before the breach of the dam," Leonard said.
Phase two also includes the public access points. The board needs one final permit in order to go ahead with phase two, and that's from the Iowa DNR. Leonard said the board won't be able to obtain that until phase one construction is well underway. He said phase two construction, however, could begin as early as this summer.
"We hope to have the completion of the dam by the end of this year or early next year so we can start filling up the lake sometime in 2015," Leonard said.
The total project cost, between rebuilding the dam and adding more public access, is estimated at less than $16 million.
Leonard said the estimated cost of the dam and spillway is $15.3. The board has also budgeted $350,000 for public access, bringing the total project cost to $15.65 million.
Lake dredging used to be on the table as a project cost, but Leonard said the board hasn't been able to secure that money yet, so it's lower on the priority list right now.
The board has raised $6 million from local Lake Delhi property owners' taxes, $1.7 million from private pledges, $5 million from the state of Iowa and $3 million from Delaware County. That's $15.7 million secured. In addition, Delaware County has agreed to pay half of the cost of the public access construction.
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