NEW LONDON -- Water is now flowing over a brand new dam at New London's Mill Pond on the Middle Fork of the Crow River.
Construction workers removed metal sheet pilings Monday that had pushed back the pond from the construction site and forced water to go through the original 1865-era dam. The pilings kept the lakebed-level construction zone relatively dry while crews built the new dam. After the pilings were pulled, it didn't take long for the water to pool up and begin flowing through the new labyrinth weir dam that has a series of concrete slabs made to look like small rock walls that water tumbles over and around.
The new dam is working well, said Jim Solheid, building inspector for the city of New London.
The appearance of the dam is quite a change from the existing stone arch dam with the traditional water gate. Even with the low winter water flow, the downstream site is quite attractive, he said.
"Everything's great," Solheid said. "The levels are correct for what we figured. There are no problems."
Although the water is now going over the dam, the $2.6 million project won't be completed until this spring.
During the next two weeks workers will install metal pilings 20 to 30 feet in front of the old dam to prevent water from going through it instead of through the new dam.
The old dam won't be removed until this spring.
Crews from Lunda Construction of Rosemount will spend the next two weeks clearing up the construction site and getting the road over the dam in usable shape for the winter.
Solheid said the road, which is a popular municipal street that goes by City Hall, will remain open at least for a majority of the winter, unless poor weather conditions threaten the integrity of the road. It will have a gravel top on it until crews can finish the work in the spring.
Lighting, landscaping, a canoe portage and a few other "minor things" will also have to wait for next year to be completed, he said.
The project is expected to be completed by June 15.
The original dam, built in 1865 with significant modifications made as recently as the 1990s, had been classified as substandard and was on the state Department of Natural Resources list of "high hazard" dams.
Funding for the project was included in bonding bills approved in 2005, 2006 and 2008.