More than a month and a half after waters from the fourth highest flood in Montevideo’s history crested at 20.09 feet on March 23, city officials are discovering unexpected damage left behind by this spring’s high water. The river level was 10.69 feet as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.


More than a month and a half after waters from the fourth highest flood in Montevideo’s history crested at 20.09 feet on March 23, city officials are discovering unexpected damage left behind by this spring’s high water. The river level was 10.69 feet as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Monday night during the Montevideo City Council meeting council members took a tour of Lagoon Park to view damage caused by the flood to the historic stone bridges and walls built by the WPA just before World War II, as well as to the dam on the Chippewa River.

Rocks are missing along the water’s edge on the stone arch bridges, and cracks have opened up at the ends. City engineer Dave Berryman said the bridges were built upon wooden pilings some 70 years ago and those pilings had probably rotted away by now.

The rock walls are simply falling apart. “After the waters receded, there was grout from the walls all over the ground,” City Manager Steve Jones told council members.

One small section of wall has fallen into the channel on the east side of the park near the shelter house. Other walls are missing stones from the tops of pillars, and many show evidence of heaving as the ground shifts.

According to FEMA rules, the bridges and walls are considered “historic,” which will affect how the city proceeds to obtain funding.

There is little doubt the city will opt to keep the historic bridges, but there is some question as to whether or not it makes sense to keep all the walls because of the effects of future flooding.

While there is some question about saving the walls, there is no question that the city wants to see the dam removed.

“We hope to have it demolished,” said Jones.

Since spring of 2009, the dam has lost approximately 3 feet of height as boards along the top and their support structure have been carried away by flood debris. Monday night a large tree trunk was hung up on the eastern half of the dam.

“The dam is doing nothing for us now,” said Berryman. “It’s really more of a danger than anything else.”

The hope, according to Jones, is to use FEMA and state flood mitigation funding for the local share of demolition costs while the Minnesota DNR will fund the rest of the removal cost.

The dam would be replaced with a series of rock “riffles,” which would allow fish to migrate upstream once again.

Already the river is taking on a more natural appearance because of the decreased height of the dam, Jones pointed out.

In other business:
• Approved use of Smith Park for a walk Saturday, Aug. 28, by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The group requested using the entire park, including barricading the entrances.

City staff had some concerns about blocking off the entire park, and suggested leaving the entrance near the playground open. The city will consider closing the entire park if enough individuals participate, however.

“We hope it’s a successful event,” Council President Sandy Hodge told applicant Jessica Webster.