DNR presents cleanup options for Willow River dam damaged in 201 - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

DNR presents cleanup options for Willow River dam damaged in 2016 storm

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One year after floods ripped through Willow River, community members are weighing in on the future of the city's damaged dam.

They can remove the dam, repair it or replace it with another system. 

So now, the city is facing a dilemma.

"It was terrifying," said Brent Switzer, the Mayor of Willow River. "We didn't know if the dam had gone out. We didn't know if we'd be under water or what would be damaged."

The city of Willow River will never forget the aftermath of the July 2016 storm.

Switzer recalls, "we were not able to use our showers, flush our toilets because of the water backup and everything. It was just a really bad day for the City of Willow River."

When driving down Highway 61, one thing stands as a constant reminder of the frightful flooding. 

"When you look at it during the daytime you can see the damage," said the Mayor.

"It breaks my heart. It's nothing anymore," he said. "That was our icon thing in Willow River and now it's in shambles."

So a year later, options to clean up the damaged dam are being considered. 

Mike Peloquin, a northwest regional manager of Division of Ecological and Water Resources at the Minnesota DNR, was "presenting information on three different options for replacement, repair, or removal of the dam."

Removing the dam is estimated to cost half a million dollars, which is the cheapest option.

Completely repairing it up to current codes would come with a $2 million price tag.

And in the middle would be the option to replace it with rock arch rapids for $1 million.

The DNR has already secured funding this year through a bonding bill. 

"We're gonna take this information back, we'll evaluate it, we'll try and address all the concerns and comments that we can," said Peloquin.

As a Willow River native, Mayor Switzer is leaning toward one option.

He said, "I think I speak for a majority of the community that we want to go back to the way it was, as the original dam."

To bring back of piece of tradition.

"It means everything to the community. It's been here since 1940," said Switzer. "When people think of Willow River, they think of the Willow River dam."

The DNR is unsure when they'll have a decision, but they hope to come to an agreement with the city and begin construction this summer. 

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