A task force appointed by Governor Chet Culver supports the use of public funding to rebuild a dam that failed in northeast Iowa. The dam breach in July drained Lake Delhi and flooded fields and communities downstream on the Maquoketa River. The task force distributed its final report at a meeting today in Marion.
Chairman Brett Mills, who also serves as director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, says the backing of public funding to restore the recreational lake includes stipulations. “It says the task force would support a project that involves public investment in the dam provided that the engineering study, reasonable costs, public ownership control and environmental concerns are addressed and there’s unfettered public access,” Mills said.
The report indicates public ownership of the dam would ensure participation in federal programs designed to help with the structure’s upkeep. Lake Delhi Recreation Association President Jim Willey calls the report “a step in the process,” adding “there’s a long way to go.”
Willey says preserving lake residents’ autonomy is a concern. He says one of “best options” would involve Lake Delhi becoming a municipality. Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency have denied a request for disaster aid because the dam is privately owned. Governor Culver has asked FEMA to reconsider that decision. The cost of replacing the dam is estimated at six million dollars.