Contract Approved for New Pickerel Lake Dam

A new Pickerel Lake dam is closer to reality after the Shell Rock River Watershed District board of managers approved an engineering services contract for the project Tuesday morning. The contract was awarded to WSB & Associates, an engineering firm, for $80,000. The contract includes all phases ofthe project, from design to construction.

The current dam is beyond repair and is planned for demolition in 2016, said Brett Behnke, district administrator. The dam is located on the western portion of the lake, between Mud Lake and Pickerel Lake. Construction is planned to start on the new dam immediately after demolition and is planned for completion in 2016, Behnke said.

The total project is expected to cost $543,000. The funding came from the 2015 legislative session, and the project is completely funded by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council through a state sales tax, Behnke said. Taxpayers won't see a tax increase from the project, he said.

"The dam structure keeps what depth we do have on Pickerel Lake," Behnke said. "It's a lake management tool we often use on reservoirs of water." He said a new dam will help maintain a trusted lake water level.

According to Behnke, the dam has been degraded for a number of years, and once the Lessard­ Sams funds became available for the project the district wanted to move to replace the dam. He said the size of the dam hasn't been identified yet.

In other news, Mick Delger was sworn in to serve on the watershed board at the meeting.

"I think it's going to be exciting and fun," Delger said. "It's definitely going to be a challenge. I thought about this before, and it's something that I've learned from my parents and my grandparents to take care of the Earth because if you don't it might not be there tomorrow."

Delger, co-owner of Albert Lea Electric, was appointed to the board last week. Delger, 63, of rural Glenville, will serve until at least next June when he will have to seek re-appointment. "From what I understand he is a good guy and has been active in the community," Behnke said. Delger replaces Scott Erlandson, who left the area for a new job in the middle of his term.

The board serves as the policymakers for the district. They have to finalize any decisions made by the district. The county received 10 applications for the open position.

"I'm really excited about this new board," Behnke said. "Everyone's engaged. There's a lot going on and a lot to learn. It's a learning curve, but everyone's picking it up so fast."

© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007