Waldo dam deserves to stay in place for long time

IT’S A DAM DILEMMA facing the village of Waldo – and the “n” is optional. The Village Board received a failure analysis report on the Waldo dam last week and, while the news wasn’t as good as the board might have hoped, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, either.

The report – which cost the village $10,000 – placed the dam in the significant risk category.

That’s right in the middle of the risk categorization, which ranges from low to significant to high.

Engineer Ellen Faulkner of Ayres and Associates, the firm that conducted the study, told the Village Board that the ranking means the dam does not meet current state Department of Natural Resources requirements for spillway capacity.

That means the village could be required to upgrade the dam and its spillway capacity, at a cost yet to be determined.

The rating is an improvement over the previous status, which had the dam rated as a high risk because there was no quantification of risk factors which the study has provided. If the study had found the dam to be a high risk, the village could have faced a very costly mandate to remove or significantly update the dam.

There is still a good possibility that the village will face an expense to update the dam, but that still needs to be determined by the DNR.

In the village’s favor, officials were able to point to a major rainstorm in 1998 where the dam was able to stand up to the torrent and did not contribute to or exacerbate any flooding or property damage.

That rain event – which did cause major flooding and water damage in many communities across the county – might have fallen within the definition and guidelines for what is termed a 100-year flood event, one of the thresholds used by the DNR and other officials to determine the fate of dams like the one in the village of Waldo.

There is no doubt that the picturesque Waldo dam is a significant part of the village.

The dam, and the pond that it creates, are featured in the village’s logo and signage. It has been a popular spot for recreational activities and events down through the years and is one of the identifying features of the village.

The DNR has made it a goal to remove unnecessary and dangerous dams on waterways throughout the state for many years – like the one on the Mullet River in Meyer Park in Plymouth - for many good environmental and safety reasons.

But at the same time, many other dams that may no longer be needed for industrial or other uses, but are still significant to the community where they are – like the Mill Pond dam in Plymouth – have been left in place and upgraded to keep them and their neighbors safe.

The dam in Waldo would certainly fall in that latter category. It is to be hoped that the village will be able to keep it place for a long, long time without a major investment or inconvenience.

At issue:
Waldo dam failure analysis
Bottom line:
Step in right direction

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