The new plan for river development includes money for low water dams, but so did the Vision 2025 plan. So what happened to that? The News On 6's Emory Bryan went to the vision plan people on Friday to find out. He reports this far down the road into the vision plan, some believed we would already have some low water dams on the river.
The low water dams that were part of the Vision Plan are still on the drawing board, but so far, that's the most visible sign of progress. The vision 2025 plan included $5.6 million for construction of two low water dams. Of that money, just $275,000 has been spent, all on studies and engineering work. The people managing the money for the vision projects say the studies have taken longer than expected, and there wasn't enough money in the vision plan to build even one of the dams.
"Five-point-six million dollars was based off of the dollars it cost to build Zink Lake, and a potential corps match, that did not come through," said Kirby Crowe, Vision 2025 Program Manager.
Since those first cost estimates were so far off there's not nearly enough money in the vision plan to pay for even one low water dam, but as it turns out the dams included in the next project couldn't be built without the money that's already been spent from the vision plan.
"Our estimates for the engineering and the permitting and so forth will not exhaust the money that's in the vision plan, so that will be married with money in the next project to build the low water dams," PMG Environmental Manager Gaylon Pinc said.
The new river plan has enough money to build two new dams and replace the existing one. The new price is at least $25 million dollars each, the vision plan budgeted $5.6 million for two.
"We would hope that voters would support the final funding of these projects, because otherwise there is not enough money to build either one of the low water dams in total," said Pinc.
The studies have been underway since the vision plan passed, but with the completion of a master plan more detailed studies were started. The reason the river has to be so closely studied is because of the endangered species which might be affected by any changes to it. Because of that, and the complications of building a dam, it would take at least a couple of years to finish the permitting process so construction could begin.