The Republican candidate in Iowa’s first congressional district says federal tax dollars should not be used to rebuild the Lake Delhi dam.  The dam was overrun by Maquoketa River flood waters on July 24th and the lake drained out, causing downstream flooding. 

G.O.P. congressional candidate Ben Lange of Independence says it’s up to state and local officials to decide whether local tax dollars go to rebuild the dam, but Lange says federal funds should not be used.

“The people around the lake have my sympathy.  You know, obviously they’ve experience an event that either damaged their property, their homes,” Lange says. “…But I think there’s a distinction now over who should finance the rebuilding of the dam.” 

Lange says there may be a role for private industry in rebuilding the dam if it’s equipped to generate hydroelectric power.  “As I understand it, this is a privately-owned dam for recreational purposes — the lake is for recreational purposes — and as a result of that I think that’s something the state and local governments need to work together on, along with private industry, to rebuild,” Lange says.

Lange is the Republican challenging Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, in this fall’s election. Braley says Lake Delhi has been an economic boon for Delaware County and he has been seeking federal block grants to help in recovery efforts which could include rebuilding the dam and helping businesses and homeowners recover from the flooding.  

“That’s the bailout mentality that we’ve had that’s really put us in this financial crisis that we’re in,” Lange says. “You know, I think this, ‘Spend first and kind of think later,’ attitude, this mantra that they have, that’s what got us into this mess and I think we can no longer afford to continue down that path.”

Lange’s home in Independence is about 30 yards from the Maquoketa River, but Lange says it sits on a hill and was not flooded.

Lake Delhi photo courtesy of the Iowa State Patrol