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Montevideo, Minn., City Council moves to remove dam on the Chippewa River

MONTEVIDEO -- A low-head dam on the Chippewa River in Montevideo could be removed as early as next year.

Council members at their meeting Monday approved a dam safety agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It will serve to make $150,000 in state funds available for the dam's removal.

The city has already obtained a commitment of $150,000 in funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the project.

The overall project is estimated at $300,000.

The dam will be replaced with rock weirs that will create rapids at the site.

Built in 1958, the dam is 21 feet in height and 120 feet in width. Low-head dams are known as drowning machines due to the hydraulic roller that occurs below them and traps people who enter the water. Three young people drowned at the site in 1975.

The opportunity to improve safety and the benefits of improved fishing that will result from the dam's removal are among the advantages that City Council members see in its removal, according to City Manager Steve Jones.

The dam is owned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which built it as part of an agreement with the city of Montevideo when Minnesota Highway 7 was built on its current alignment in the community. MnDOT has indicated it will transfer ownership of the site to the city to allow the removal to go forward.

The state has agreed to maintain the rock rapids after the dam is removed, according to information presented to council members.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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