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Little Rice Flowage Will See Lower Water Levels Earlier

Wisconsin DNR

Property owners on the Little Rice Flowage near Crandon will be seeing lower water levels earlier than usual.  The DNR will draw down water levels one to two feet this week…to prepare for some major dam repairs.

DNR Wildlife biologist Jeremy Holtz says the existing structure was built in the 1930s, and it’s difficult to operate.

“It’s an old concrete structure with huge wooden logs in it. 14 feet long, eight inches high made of solid oak. They warp and leak, and they’re extremely difficult to lift – we actually have to use an old chain hoist, and it take two to three people to lift each log.”

Under the new design plan, two bays will be made of concrete, and two will have metal gates that can be easily lowered by a single operator.  There will also be sensors upstream of the dam to monitor water levels. 

Holtz says having better control of the water level could open the door to changes in how the department manages water levels.    

“It’s gonna be safe for one person to operate. And it’s gonna be easier for us to let just a little bit of water out if we need to, or a lot. As opposed to right now, it’s kind of like all or nothing – you either have to pull a big giant log out, or leave it in.”

Holtz expects the work to be completed this fall.

Federal funds from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission will help pay for the $200,000 project.

While those on the Little Rice Flowage may need to hurry and remove docks and boats…those downstream from the Little Rice Dam on the Wolf River may be seeing higher flows in the coming days.  

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