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Letter to District Members on Roller Mill Dam from UNLMD Chairman Tim Mentkowski

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Hi all,
 
Tim_Mentkowski_Upper_NemahbinLast week I attended a meeting in Delafield with WDNR regarding Mill Pond Dam abandonment and emergency removal of stop logs in the Roller Mill dam because of the flood.
 
Monday June 16, Bill Barthel and I met with representatives of Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) regarding the DNR's lack of a plan for draining the millpond.  The DNR gave us a $10,000 grant to develop this plan which we have been working on for a year and a half.
 
I sent the DNR another copy of our Oct 2006 request for a contested case hearing on the proper method to abandon the Roller Mill dam.  I'm working on another draft to re-request the hearing since they ignored our first request.
 
I have been researching the DNR's abandonment of a dam on the Oconomowoc River upstream of North Lake in the early 1990's.  The lake has been reported to be a mudhole for 3 years thereafter.  All of the court decisions say the DNR can do "as it deems fit".  North Lake spent $235,000 in legal fees - and lost.  North Lake took a petition all the way to the US Supreme Court and was rejected.
 
I believe our best approach to the Roller Mill dam abandonment is to work with SEWRPC engineers to develop a plan that keeps the silt in the millpond and to work with the Roller Mill Dam owner and the DNR to accomplish this.  In view of our record high water levels, a lot of silt has already blown down the river.  The DNR claims that in an emergency it can draw down the water level in the millpond as it sees fit.
 
I've been in contact with Delafield officials about the water level here and the operation of its dam.  A wheel is used to raise and lower their dam.  The wheel can turn 119 turns to open the dam fully.  This is where it was last week.  Contrary to DNR opinions, the wheel has been turned back to 77 turns by Delafield resulting in more water being held back.
 
The concept of using fireworks funds for flood relief will not work.  The money was appropriated at last fall's annual meeting of the district.  Half the cost has already been paid so as to get 10% more fireworks for free.  The fireworks contract was signed last year, and we owe the remaining one half of the cost.
 
The lake district does have a "contingency fund" for emergencies or unexpected expenses.  Also we can call for a special meeting of all members of the district to create a "special assessment".  What do you think we should use this money for??
 
It looks like the lake level went down 5 or 6 inches recently.  I don't know of anyone who has seen worse flooding.  I think all we can do is try to get Delafield to keep closing its dam and wait for the water to recede - while working to keep the millpond muck up there as the Roller Mill dam is abandoned.  People living on the millpond want the Roller Mill dam and pond saved.  Their last minute reaction is probably a worthless effort.
 
I am open to your ideas and your help, but right now I don't know of anything else that can be done.  We clean up debris from the river as it floats into our yard as I'm sure we're all doing.  Everyone is in this situation together.  Please contact me if you can offer any assistance.  (646-2126)
 
I hope everyone will enjoy our picnic and fireworks this summer.
 
Tim, UNLMD Chairperson

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