The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) recently announced that it had halted repairs to the dam at Lac qui Parle due to high water levels caused by this summer’s unusually heavy rainfall.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) recently announced that it had halted repairs to the dam at Lac qui Parle due to high water levels caused by this summer’s unusually heavy rainfall.

 

The COE was attempting to replace the gates and the electric gate operators.

 

According to Randy Melby of the COE, the last time the gates were replaced was in 1974. “The old ones are cast iron, and we were going to replace those with stainless steel gates and stainless steel electric operators,” said Melby.

 

The dam at Lac qui Parle was constructed from money allocated by the Lac qui Parle Flood Con­trol Project that was authorized by Congress in 1936. The dam was partially built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project during the Great Depression.

 

The COE completed their part of the project between the years of 1941-1951. In 1950, the state of Minnesota transferred the day-to-day operation of the project to the COE, which has maintained the dam ever since.

 

In order to replace the cast iron gates, the COE had to construct a coffer dam on the north side of the dam to divert water around the gates that were to be replaced.

 

The coffer dam was successfully constructed,  however, this summer’s frequent storms with unusually heavy rains raised the water level of the lake to a point where it was too dangerous to work on the dam.

 

As the water level of the lake continued to rise, a decision had to be made. “We had to breach the coffer dam in order to open more gates and release more water through the dam,” said Melby.

 

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