Failed Iowa Dam Will Be Rebuilt, Association President Says

August 5, 2010

The president of a group that owns the failed Lake Delhi dam says the structure will be rebuilt and might again produce hydroelectric power.

Lake Delhi Recreation Association President Jim Willey says an engineering company is working on plans to rebuild the dam, originally constructed in 1927. The dam break occurred when the flood-swollen Maquoketa River ate holes in earthen sections on July 24. The flooding damaged structures and farmland downstream, but the biggest question is whether to rebuild the dam and restore the 9-mile-long lake bordered by nearly 1,000 properties.

The dam was built on the Maquoketa River in 1922 to produce hydroelectric power. In 1973, the Lake Delhi Recreation Association became the owner, and since 1989 property owners have paid an assessment to maintain the dam and dredge the lake. It no longer produces electricity and was used solely for recreation.

The dam generated power until the 1970s, and Willey says a rebuilt dam could do so again. That could help finance reconstruction.

“I guess just like everybody else, I hope that something can be done,” said Judy Leeper, who owns a cabin that now borders a muddy expanse.

Immediately after the private dam failed, Gov. Chet Culver gave an impression that it would be rebuilt, stating, “We’re going to throw everything we have at it, in terms of federal and state resources.”

There are issues, however, about whether state funding should be used.

“Our regulations state that you can never abandon a dam,” Garton said. “The current owner has to maintain the dam or remove it. You can’t just walk away from your responsibility.”

Officials acknowledge that removing the dam, which draws boaters from a large area of northeast Iowa, wouldn’t be popular. Culver aides said a key issue will be whether the public would benefit, not only the homeowners.

Aides plan to offer Gov. Chet Culver options for state aid by Aug. 6.

Information from: The Des Moines Register

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.