Residents weigh in on fate of Oronoco dam - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Chris Conte

Residents weigh in on fate of Oronoco dam


ORONOCO (KTTC-DT)-- Oronoco residents say they are prepared for the possibility that the Lake Shady Dam could be torn down sometime in the near future, meaning the decades old lake would disappear.

"I would be a fool to say I don't miss the lake, but I know that it might not be coming back," said Carol Olson on Thursday. Olson lives in a two-story house on the shores of Lake Shady in Oronoco, where the body of water has now dried up because the dam isn't functioning properly.

"I've probably lost $30,000-$50,0000 just because I don't have access to the lake and I don't have a lake front home anymore," the long time Oronoco resident added.

The Lake Shady dam is almost 90-years-old and the rising flood waters back on September 23 just became too much for the structure to hold back.

"It's not what you see as beautiful right now, but the potential is definitely there," Olson noted.

Officials from the Olmsted County Environmental Commission are recommending that the dam be torn down so funds that would've have been used to repair the ailing structure can be used for restoration of the Zumbro River both above and below the city of Oronoco. Plans that might include turning the now dry shoreline of the lake into walking trails or a beach.

"You see what the stream is doing, it's chanelizing, it's cutting, it really really needs our help," said Olmsted County Board of Commissioners Chair Judy Ohly.

FEMA would fund about 75 percent of the cost to rebuild the dam, which officials estimate to be well over $2 million, but because it would cost over $10 million to dredge Lake Shady, the Environmental Commission decided it's not worth repairing the dam.

"There's a lot of questions that need to be answered before we make that decision (of what to do with the dam)," Ohly adds.

For the time being, public works officials will be filling in barren stretches of shoreline with native plants in hopes of preventing dust from flying around on windy days. The Olmsted County Board of Commissioners will meet October 26 to discuss the issue.

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