Dam Update

March 2018

By Co-Chair Adam Elliott

Dear Blake Lake District Members,

As outlined in previous communications, our intent is to complete all reconstruction of the Big Blake Lake Dam in 2018.  Just to review, we decided to hold off on completing the project in 2017 as we learned that DNR grants for dam reconstruction were likely to be available in 2018.  DNR dam grants were approved in the 2018 Wisconsin state budget and we are currently in the process of applying for a DNR grant which would cover approximately 50% of all dam related reconstruction costs.

Here is a summary of where we are at and the project timeline for 2018:

  • The dam grants are based on how many “points” you are awarded for your project. Over the past few weeks, our Project Engineer/Manager Larry Gotham – Morgan & Parmley) completed the Inspection, Maintenance & Operation plan and the Emergency Action Plan, and submitted to the DNR.  Both of these plans were approved by the Wisconsin DNR.
  • These will be submitted along with the grant application before April 30th, 2018.
  • Currently, we are preparing bidding documents for prospective construction companies. We expect to begin advertising for dam bids in April 2018.
  • Bids will be open for approximately 30 days.
  • July 5th, 2018 is when the DNR will inform us if we have been awarded a grant.
  • If awarded, we will need to obtain the DNR award grant agreement which is expected to be delivered by August 5th, 2018.
  • We would expect to award the bid to a contractor on or about August 5th, 2018.
  • If awarded a grant, we would expect to begin construction around September 1st, 2018 with construction ending on or about October 15th, 2018.
  • Note: if the grant is not awarded, we expect construction to start at an earlier date.


Dam Update

December 2017

By Co-Chair Adam Elliott

Dear Blake Lake District Members,

Here is a review of the project highlights and the latest update.

Our year in review:

  • In March 2017, the Wisconsin DNR approved our dam reconstruction plans.
  • In July 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved our plans. With this approval, we authorized our engineer at Morgan & Parmley to begin preparing bidding documents to begin the reconstruction.
  • About this time, two things occurred:
    • We understood that sending out bidding documents out this late in the year was not the ideal time of the year to receive the best and lowest cost bids.
    • We also learned that grant monies were specified in the State of Wisconsin budget for dam reconstruction projects in 2018. The grants are structured to cover 50% of all dam reconstruction related costs. While the grant monies were specified, we had to wait for the budget to be approved.
  • Given the above, we decided to hold off on the reconstruction project until 2018.

Current update:

  • The State budget has now been approved with the grant monies specified.
  • We are currently applying for a DNR dam grant. Our dam engineer at Morgan & Parmley has prepared an Operations, Inspection and Maintenance Plan (OIMP) as well as an Emergency Action Plan (EAP). Providing these plans will increase our chances of being selected for a dam grant.
  • It is our intention to go through the dam grant process and hopefully be selected, which would pay for 50% of our overall costs. If the total cost of the project ends up costing $300,000, the grant would cover $150,000.
  • Whether the grant is approved or not, we are intending on sending out bidding documents in the spring of 2018 and finalizing the construction project in 2018.


 Adam Elliott, Sam Weber, Tom Borden, Jim Filkins and Peggy Lauritsen.

Dam Committee Members, Big Blake Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District

Dam Update

August 2017

By Co-Chair Adam Elliott

Q: What is the current status of the Dam Project?

A: We just received word in early July that the Army Corps of Engineers approved our project. This was the last item needed before sending out the bidding documents.

Q: Will the dam project be completed in 2017?

A: Great question. We originally had planned to complete in 2017. However, this spring we learned that $5 million dollars in grant money had been set aside for dam re-construction projects.  These would be for projects completed in 2018. We would need to apply by November 2017. If awarded the grant, the grant would pay up to 50% of our overall cost. If the dam project
ended up costing $250,000 — the grant would result in a savings of $125,000.

Q: So, are we going to wait and apply for the grant?

A: Given the very large amount of the grant as well as what we feel is a decent probability of receiving a grant, we are going to pursue the grant monies and plan on completion of the dam project in 2018. Our existing approved permits are good for 2 years, so this does not present a problem.

Q: How are we going to handle the assessments?

A: We are not going to change the assessment method, so it will be as it was for 2017. Depending on the final bids and potential for grant monies, we will re-adjust.

Q: What is our status with respect to the WDNR?

A: We were informed by the WDNR in 2014 that we had an
illegal dam. They informed us that we would either need to
re-construct the dam or they would remove the dam completely.  The WDNR has been very cooperative since day 1. Yes — we
have to re-construct the dam, but as long as we continue to
make progress and work closely with the WDNR, we have no reason to believe that they will have any issues with completing the dam in 2018.

You can see previous dam updates below.

Dam Reconstruction Update

By Co-Chair Adam Elliott

April 2017

Dear Blake Lake District Members,

We are actively working on the dam reconstruction project. Here is our latest update. Our engineer, Larry Gotham, will be our guest speaker and is ready to answer more of your questions at the Spring Meeting on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

Q1: Where are we at with the dam project?

A: Over the winter, our engineering firm (Morgan & Parmley) worked diligently with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to finalize a plan to reconstruct the Blake Lake Dam in such a way that meets a 100 year flood event and appropriate for our lake. On March 16, 2017, the DNR gave us final approval for the dam. The final plan accepted technically considers our dam a “large dam” with a height exceeding 6 feet.  We are now proceeding with steps toward completing the project.

Q2: With the new plan, what are the estimated total costs for the dam project?

A: According to our engineering firm, the estimated costs are $247,000, which includes all costs incurred to date. They advised that these costs could vary by 10% of this estimate. We will not be able to finalize this cost until bids are received.

Q3: What are the next steps and estimated timeline that need to be taken to complete the dam project?

A: According to our engineering firm, here are the next steps (expected to be completed in 2017):

  1. S. Army Corp of Engineers: Right now, we are waiting on final approval from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which takes place after the DNR plan was approved. We are expecting this approval any day.
  2. Bidding Documents: We have authorized construction and have directed Morgan & Parmley to prepare the bidding documents.
  3. Bidding Process: Morgan & Parmley will now complete the bidding documents, begin advertising and receiving bids. The lowest cost responsible bidder will be awarded the contract.
  4. Construction: Upon contract signing and a pre-construction conference, construction will begin.
  5. Completion: Project completion and certification to the DNR is expected in the fall of 2017.


Q4:  Where are we at on financing?

A: The Blake Lake Protection & Rehabilitation District (BLPRD) originally applied for a $150,000 loan based on initial cost estimates. This loan was taken in August 2015 when it was believed that the project would be completed in 2016. It is a 5-year loan with a 3% interest rate, and we can pay the loan off early if desired. The total finance charge is approximately $12,000.

At the August, 2016 Annual Meeting, our project engineer Larry Gotham described how the dam would likely be larger than originally thought and that costs could be $225,000. Given this information, a motion was made/carried to increase our ability to borrow from $150,000 to $250,000.

We have now made two payments on this 5-year loan. In addition, we have incurred approximately $30,000 in costs for legal fees, survey and engineering work, permits, etc. District members will note the additional line item for loan repayment on their Real Estate Property Tax Bill for 2016. Given the existing loan and costs, we made our first assessment for the dam to lake district members in January 2017. At this point, the board is considering options to finance the increased cost of the dam.

Q5:  How were properties assessed?

A: The BLPRD polled the district members at the 2015 annual meeting and considered various methods to assess properties.  The final method chosen breaks down as follows:

    • The total estimated cost of the dam was considered.  All eligible properties in the lake district are considered
    • Properties are designated as either shoreline properties or non-shoreline properties
    • Sixty percent of the overall cost is assigned to every property (shoreline or non-shoreline)
    • The remaining cost is assessed to shoreline properties based on lineal feet of shoreline



Q6:  How are these costs being assessed?

A: Each loan will be paid back over 5 years, so you will pay four more installments on our current $150,000 loan, which are shown as an separate line item on your real estate tax statement and are payable in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.  Additional financing will be assessed as needed and repaid in the same manner as this current loan.

Q7:  Could the costs be more than the estimated $250,000?

A: This is possible. Right now, our cost estimates are based on our engineer’s experience with similar dam projects and an initial estimate from a construction company.  We will not have final cost estimates until all bids are received.

Q8: Will there be a footbridge near the dam?

A: It is undecided. At this time, there is a pending sale of the land on the south side of the dam with new ownership involved. We have a permit approved for a future footbridge and a recommended location.

Q9: What are the anticipated water levels this Summer before the reconstructed dam is complete?

A: Because Big Blake Lake is on a flowage, the water levels can fluctuate based on many factors, including Spring run-offs, overall precipitation and other factors. At the end of last Summer, the water levels were manageable with the existing dam. We are working closely with the DNR to do what we can to maintain the existing levels until the dam project is complete.

Q10: Should I be putting in our docks and boats this Spring, or wait until the dam project is complete?

A: As mentioned above, the water levels can fluctuate, especially with the current state of the dam. While we do not anticipate water levels dropping to levels that may impact your dock and boat placement, your decision is personal preference and may depend on the shoreline water depth near your property.

Q11: If I am selling my property, what do I need to disclose to a
potential buyer?

A: Please consult your realtor or real estate professional about what you need to disclose. The board is doing our best to be transparent and update all members about the costs, timelines, risks and process as we move forward.

Q12: When the old dam is removed, will lake levels drop significantly?

A: The engineers have told us that this is not the expectation. The plan calls for placing the new dam west of the old dam and then to remove the old dam after placement of the new dam.

Q13: Will maintenance be required on the new dam?

A: Yes. Periodic inspections will be required and we will have secured the necessary easements and rights to inspect, maintain and repair (if necessary) the dam. We do not anticipate significant incremental costs to perform inspection, maintenance and repairs. We are anticipating any incremental costs to be covered in our annual budget.

2016 Annual Meeting Minutes

We hope you will be joining us at the Spring Meeting on Saturday, May 20 at 8:30am. SAVE THE DATE! To catch up on what happened at the Annual Meeting in August, get meeting minutes here >>

Respectfully, Adam Elliott, Sam Weber, Tom Borden, Jim Filkins and Peggy Lauritsen.

Dam Committee Members, Big Blake Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District


Update: Blake Lake Dam Reconstruction

March 16, 2017

By Co-Chair Adam Elliott

Dear Blake Lake District Members,

We have been actively working on the dam reconstruction project since the annual meeting in August. Our engineer has been working with the DNR to meet all of the requirements we must follow. Our goal of this email is to bring you up to date on our progress and answer some of the questions you may have.
 Our engineer, Larry Gotham, will be our guest speaker, and ready to answer more of your questions at the Spring Meeting on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

What else?
Q: What is the current status of the dam reconstruction project?
A: Our project engineer is Larry Gotham (Morgan & Parmley, LTD – Ladysmith, WI). Over the winter, our project engineer has been going back and forth with the DNR to gain final approval for the dam reconstruction project design. We have provided all plans, and expect to obtain final approvals any day now. While we were anticipating March 1st, it now looks like April 1st.

Q: What are the steps for the project once the DNR approves our plans?
A: The BLPRD board will review the DNR approvals and authorize construction and direct Morgan and Parmley to prepare construction bidding documents. Here is a summary of the next steps.

  • Morgan and Parmley completes the bidding documents.
  • Advertising for the bids begins.
  • Bids are opened.
  • The BLPRD reviews the bids and authorizes award to the lowest responsible bidder.
  • Contracts are signed and preconstruction conference is held.
  • Construction begins
  • Construction is completed.


Q: What is the timeframe for the dam to be completed?
A: Currently our project engineer is estimating that the entire project will be completed 195 days after the DNR approvals are obtained. If approvals are obtained by April 1st as expected, construction would be completed in the mid-October timeframe.

Q: What was the final determination for the type of dam needed?
A: Originally, our project engineer and the DNR believed that a small dam would suffice. After all measurements and calculations, it was determined that we would need a larger dam. The current plan is to build what the DNR refers to as a large dam.

Q: What is the estimated cost of the revised large dam?
A: The initial estimate for the total cost of the revised dam reconstruction project is $250,000.  This includes all construction costs as well as all permits, legal and engineering fees. This does not include the cost of the footbridge placement or construction. The exact location of a footbridge is not set. A footbridge cannot be placed over the new dam. Also, the ownership of the land for a footbridge has changed.

Q: How does this compare to what Morgan and Parmley outlined at our Annual Meeting?
A: At the Annual Meeting, our project engineer, Larry Gotham estimated that the cost would be $225,000. This led to a motion that was approved by members to increase the dam budget to $250,000.

Q: How and when will we then pay for the dam?
A: BLPRD took out a loan for $150,000 to pay for the project. This loan is from the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. It is a 5 year loan with an interest rate of 3%. There is no penalty for early payment. The first installment of $32,328 was made in March, 2016 and a second installment in March 2017.

Assessments: Final calculations for the per-parcel special assessment will be developed as construction bids come in and final costs can be determined. Based on current information, we anticipate additional costs of $100,000 to complete the dam, which will be assessed in the same manner as the loan payment.

 Adam Elliott, Sam Weber, Tom Borden, Jim Filkins and Peggy Lauritsen.
Dam Committee Members, Big Blake Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District

2016 Annual Meeting Minutes

We hope you will be joining us at the Spring Meeting on Saturday, May 20 at 8:30am.
SAVE THE DATE! To catch up on what happened at the Annual Meeting in August, get meeting minutes here >>


Dam reconstruction update

July 25, 2016

By Co-Chair Adam Elliott

Where are we at?

1. The land needed to reconstruct the dam has now been transferred from the Sherrard Estate to the Blake Lake Protection & Rehabilitation District (BLPRD).

2. Our Project Engineer — Larry Gotham (Morgan & Parmley, LTD – Ladysmith, WI) has completed all surveys and is currently working on the dam reconstruction plan. Based on the nature of our lake and flowage, it was recommended that the type of dam needed is a rip rap rock chute.

3. The initial estimates for the total cost of the dam reconstruction project was between $100,000 and $150,000.

4. In August, 2015 the BLPRD took out a loan for $150,000 to pay for the project. This loan is from the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. It is a 5 year loan with an interest rate of 3%. There is no penalty for early payment. The first installment of $32,328 was made in March, 2016.

What is next?

1. Per the plan, Morgan & Parmley are currently finalizing the plans for the dam. This is expected in May.

2. Once these plans are complete, they will be submitted to the DNR to obtain their approval for the project. It is expected that the DNR will take approximately 3 months to get through the approval process, but there is no guarantee on this time frame.

3. Once the project is approved, a request for construction bids will go out. Once the construction company has been identified, reconstruction of the dam will begin. The actual reconstruction of the dam is expected to take a few weeks.

4. We are hoping to complete all construction in the fall of 2016, but the final date will be dictated by when we receive approval from the DNR.

What else?

The plan calls for a footbridge to be placed over the dam. We will either use the old foot bridge or construct a new footbridge. This decision will be determined by cost as well as safety. The footbridge will be submitted to the DNR as part of the plan. As a part of the land transfer process, all parties agreed that the dam will be named “The Sherrard Family Dam” and appropriate signage will designate at the site.