Commission votes to repair Johnson Dam near Augusta

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- "No time for warning, basements were filled before people knew about it," said Kelly Jacobs, who today described the floods of 1956 in Augusta from a history book.

Pictures speak louder than words when you think about a flood in Augusta.

In 1977, Johnson Dam was built to help reduce flash flooding during heavy rain. But the system built to protect, 35 plus years later, is beginning to show its age.

"Right now the dam actually has a failing culvert pipe going through the middle of it," Jacobs said. She is the Land Conservation Supervisor in Eau Claire County.

That is the part of the dam seen here that slows the water down. She says water is going outside the culvert and it is beginning to rust.

Other problems may make it less reliable, too. And so on Monday night, the Eau Claire Land Conservation Commission came to a decision to repair it.

"I was encouraged by the fact that everyone is on the same page if it can be put together they'd like to have it repaired," said Robin Leary, the Chair of the Land Conservation Commission.

But it is not that simple. She says it is expected to cost $100,000 and needs to be done before February 2014.

"Each one area doesn't have a lot of money to go forward, so we're gonna be applying for grants, we're gonna also be working to see if materials or labor can be worked together to make this project," Leary added.

She says the commission, Augusta, Bridge Creek, and the DNR have also shown support for the project. Augusta's mayor says the project received full support from the council and 24 out of 25 voted to repair it at a public hearing last week.

"We want to be good neighbors and help out when we can, but we're not the only municipality or jurisdiction that's being protected by the dam," he said.

And so it is the commission's approval that keeps the project alive. Optimism, going forward.

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