County water board discussing options for Karey Dam

The Hettinger County Water Board has been engaged in heavy discussion since spring regarding the deteriorating Karey Dam. Karey Dam is roughly three miles northwest of New England built on the Cannon Ball River.

karey-dam-rgb-web

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

The Hettinger County Water Board has been engaged in heavy discussion since spring regarding the deteriorating Karey Dam. Karey Dam is roughly three miles northwest of New England built on the Cannon Ball River.

“We’ve been looking at it hard, since this spring,” said Don Urlacher, Hettinger County Water Board Chairman.

Originally built in the 1930s, the dam was a project by the Civilian Conservation Corp, a branch of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to bring the United States out of the Great Depression.

The dam saw repairs in the 1980s, but according to Urlacher, there are no other records that indicates work outside of 30 years ago.

About three years ago, the issue was brought to the board by the land owner, Urlacher said. And this past spring, the water board commissioned Barr Engineering to do a feasibility study, to determine the state of the dam and to analyze possible solutions.

According to Urlacher, the board has discussed three different options after hearing what Barr Engineering’s study revealed.

The first option would be to eliminate the dam completely. Urlacher said the biggest concern if it were eliminated would be land erosion, and sedimentation accumulation downstream because of the lack of flow control. The city also has an irrigation permit in regards to the golf course. The permit would not be applicable if the dam was removed, because the irrigation comes from the water being collected before behind the dam. The health department also has concern over removing the dam. Urlacher said they want something done because of the concern over water quality.

“[The health department] is on board with us, wanting to see something done,” he said.

The area is also somewhat of a recreation spot, and without the presence of the dam, activities such as fishing would not be available.

“If it is eliminated, that form of recreation would be gone,” Urlacher said.

Urlacher indicated that he would not want to see the dam eliminated.

The second option would be to put in another concrete structure, similar to what exists now, with added steps on the back side to stop some of the hydraulic roll formations. This option would require eventual maintenance.

The third option, and the one the board seems to be leaning towards according to Urlacher, would be to construct a rock arch rapids dam. A rock arch rapids dam is constructed with a series of steps in the back, with a gradual decline of steps built with rocks and other material on the other side. This would still allow fish in the river to navigate upstream.

“We have seen pictures of ones that have been built, they have no maintenance, basically,” Urlacher said. “Virtually there’s no maintenance with these.”

This option would also clean up the sediment and make it safer for people using the area by eliminating the hydraulic roll.

During a meeting held at the Memorial Hall in New England, Urlacher said the general consensus was that the rock arch rapids option would be best.

Urlacher also said the board is only considering options that would qualify for funding through the State Water Commission. He also said that the board will look at multiple agencies for funding including U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the health department, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Urlacher wasn’t sure when construction could possibly begin, but did say that after conversing with engineers, it might be a three to five year project.

As far as when the dam might falter, and break apart, Urlacher said that is up in the air, but that some believe one good spring wash out could destroy it.

“It’s in that bad of shape, that I think a bad spring run and it could basically be gone, or breach,” he said.

The Hettinger County Water Board meets on the last Tuesday of every month at the Hettinger County Courthouse in Mott.

Share this post

GAMES