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Lake District OKs small dredge project

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
July 31, 2011
— Lake Koshkonong resident Bill Lauderdale gave a thumbs-up Saturday to plans by the Rock-Koshkonong Lake District for an experimental dredge on the north end of Lake Koshkonong.

He was among a majority of lake district residents who voted to approve the district’s 2012 budget at the annual district meeting Saturday at Fort Atkinson High School. About 150 of the district’s 4,000 residents turned out for the meeting.


Lauderdale lives on the lake’s south shore at 339 Oxbow Bend, near a canal that provides residents with boat access to Bingham’s Bay. The canal and bay are filling with silt carried downstream along the Rock River.


Lauderdale, an electrical contractor in Illinois, supports the plans for an experimental dredge. “We have to do something. We have to move forward,” he said.


Someday, Lauderdale could see his neighborhood canal cleared as part of a multi-million dollar dredging project at the lake. The project, which could include numerous shoreline dredges and the construction of islands to control erosion and silting at the lake, would first need approval by the lake district and state and federal regulatory agencies.


But the pilot dredge that district voters approved Saturday could determine whether a larger-scale dredge could be viable at the lake.


The lake district, along with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, could start dredging a small swath of residential shoreline in Stinker’s Bay, on Lake Koshkonong’s north end, as early as October.


The groups plan to study the dredge over three years to learn how larger dredges could hold up against erosion and silting. Under the plan, the groups would use dredged material along with rock riprap to build a shoreline breakwater that would protect Mud Lake, a wetland connected by a channel to Lake Koshkonong’s north end.


Mud Lake is a major fish hatchery, but officials say it’s threatened because wave erosion is eating into a spit of land that separates it from the lake.


“We made the ecological decision that we want to protect that fish habitat,” lake district Chairman Brian Christianson said in an interview Saturday. “We want to continue to make Koshkonong a world-class fish hatchery. This is a way to do that that’s affordable.”


The project, which is pending environmental review, could cost about $200,000, according to lake district officials. The district would pay for it with money earmarked for lake improvements and a special $50 per parcel fee approved Saturday by district residents.


Lake district resident Jeff Huberd was among a handful of district residents who on Saturday voted against approving the district’s budget. He said he did so because the lake dredging plans he’s seen seem as though they’d mostly benefit lakefront property owners. Huberd lives about five blocks away from Lake Koshkonong.


Huberd said he believes that if the district dredges in front of lakefront properties, then those owners should have to pay more for the work than people who don’t live along the lake—possibly through special user fees.


Lake district voters on Saturday also approved:


n An amendment that would allow the lake district to use money from a maintenance fund to convert Indianford dam to generate electricity.


The district owns and operates the dam, which controls water flow on the south end of Lake Koshkonong. The dam was once used to produce electricity. A plan to restore its electric turbines and add solar collection panels at the dam’s powerhouse could cost as much as $300,000, district officials estimated.


Christianson said the district likely would run the dam itself, using profits to fund lake projects. Rob Montgomery, a consultant for the lake district, said the district would have to study whether it would be feasible to convert the dam. No work has been approved.


He said the district cannot make upgrades that would modify stream flow at the dam, and it would still have to comply with an operating agreement under the DNR.



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