Residents worry intentional "breach" could drain Iowa Great Lakes
MILFORD, Iowa (KTIV) -- Iowa Governor Chet Culver defended his decision Thursday morning, to take measures to prevent flooding at Iowa's Great Lakes. Some people living at the lakes say it's an unnecessary step for something that's not a problem.
"There was an overwhelming recommendation to take this step and without it, we could have risked the potential for massive flooding and serious damage," Culver said.
The decision to cut a "controlled breach" at Lower Gar Lake was recommended by the Army Corps of Engineers, the DNR, and the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors.
But, folks living near the lake don't see the need. Thursday morning in Milford, they met with those leaders, asking them to preserve their lakeside way of life.
"We love water and it's so relaxing and that's why we live here," says Milford resident Lori Anliker.
Anliker moved to Milford from Spencer four years ago to spend more time on the water at the Iowa Great Lakes. She says an emergency measure to prevent flooding could threaten her warm weather pastime.
"It's not flooding. If you look around, yeah, the water's a little bit high. It starts out high every spring," Anliker said.
To relieve spring flooding, the Army Corps of Engineers has recommended cracking a 45-foot temporary gap in 230th Avenue. That would send water levels down, evening out the lakes.
Milford's mayor says lake levels are nowhere near where they were in 1993, so he thinks this plan is an over-reaction.
"We just don't understand it," says Mayor Don Lamb.
Lamb worries the lower lake levels could lead to an algae infestation, and other problems associated with a shallow lake. Not only that, but what happens at Lower Gar affects other bodies of water in the lake chain since they're all connected.
"It's important because we have access to all the other lakes out here and so we want to keep a decent water level on this end of the lake," Lamb said.
But while the lake looks normal now, officials with the Army Corps say, look to the north.
"That's one of the things our engineers are looking at. They do forecasts based on snow/water equivalence," says Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Richard Taylor.
Right now, they're predicting a lot of melting to come this way.
Taylor says, "They're actually looking at this issue and making sure we make the right decision for everyone involved."
He says with the open breach, officials will still be able to control lake levels.
While those living on the lake want protection, they also want to make sure the reason they live here is safe.
"We need all the water we can get in July and August so we can boat and have fun and enjoy the lakes," Anliker says.
Construction firms were also present Thursday morning to survey the site and make a bid. Since this is considered "emergency" action, bids were due at 5:00 Thursday.
Once the Army Corps of Engineers makes a decision, it will wait until its officials say construction is safe for everyone downstream. Then, within three days of that decision, they'll begin construction, which could start within days.
The Army Corps says it's designing the project so they can easily repair the levee once waters recede.