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Town taking precautions with Delavan Lake


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Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Aug. 24, 2007, 9:38 a.m.)

The town of Delavan piled sandbags on the Delavan Lake dam as a precaution Thursday afternoon.

The water level is 17 inches higher than normal for this time of year and is only about 9 inches from spilling over, said Gail Swaine with the Delavan Lake Sanitary District.

"We're going to take no chances so it was sandbagged," Town Chairman Wayne Polzin said. "If it goes over the dam, we don't know what will happen."

The town's highway department stacked bags three or four high, Polzin said.

"If it breaks through the dyke there by the dam, if I lived down stream, I don't want to be there," Polzin said.

Water was coming into the inlet about twice as fast as it flowed out of the outlet, Delavan Lake Sanitary District Administrator Kevin MacKinnon said Thursday.

"It's held steady for the last couple of days," MacKinnon said.

With the dam wide open, the lake can be lowered about an inch a day without any more rain, MacKinnon said. The dam can release about 1,800 to 2,200 gallons of water per second.

So far though, things are holding together.

"It is incredibly high," said Swaine, who will take over the retiring MacKinnon. "I'm amazed that things are doing as well as they are. Everything with the sanitary system is under control and we're monitoring all the flows coming into and out of the lake."

Town officials had an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon and declared the entire lake a slow/no wake zone. The city of Delavan declared the same for its portion of the lake near Lake Lawn Resort.

The public boat launches are closed and most of the private launches around the lake are following suit, Polzin said.

The no wake and launch restrictions will last through the weekend. The lake would need to drop about 10 inches before the bans are lifted, Polzin said.

"It looks like the lake will not be open for launching until after Labor Day, which is sad," Polzin said. "That's a lot of dollars (lost), but you have to do what's best for the town and the community. We feel this is the best (solution) there is."

Water is pouring out of the dam

The town's police boat recovered about 15 boats and personal watercraft that escaped from their moorings and drifted free, Polzin said. Any remaining boats floating free will be recovered by the Delavan Lake Marina. Owners will be charged for their recovery.

Janesville Gazette reporter Ann Marie Ames contributed to this story.


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