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Published November 05, 2012, 02:57 PM

Corps to Discuss New Drayton Dam

A proposal to build a new dam in Drayton, North Dakota, and add a passage for fish will be discussed at a public meeting Nov. 15 in town.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

A proposal to build a new dam in Drayton, North Dakota, and add a passage for fish will be discussed at a public meeting Nov. 15 in town.

The project, estimated to cost $9.3 million, is an environmental mitigation feature of the proposed Fargo-Moorhead flood-protection project, according to Jeff DeZellar, project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in St. Paul.

Built in 1964 to supply water for the nearby American Crystal Sugar Co. plant and the city, the low-head dam has claimed at least 10 lives to drowning. A replacement dam has been under discussion for several years.

The Nov. 15 public meeting will begin with an open house at 6:30 p.m. at Hastings Landing Restaurant. A presentation will follow at 7 p.m. The public will hear details of the project plan and concerns considered in its development.

Clear path for fish

The project includes removal of the existing dam and construction of a modified dam with a rock-rapids fishway about 300 feet upstream, or south, of the existing dam. It is similar to the rock-rapids fishway in place below the Riverside Dam in Grand Forks.

The Drayton Dam is the last migration barrier between the Red River’s source in Wahpeton, N.D., and the St. Andrews Lock and Dam in Lockport, Man., about 20 miles north of Winnipeg.

“It’s a very significant project. It literally opens up more than 100 miles or more of stream,” DeZellar said.

However, there is no timetable yet for construction. While the design and review process is scheduled to be completed by June 2013, construction cannot begin until Congress authorizes and funds the Fargo-Moorhead diversion.

The project faces one other bureaucratic hurdle. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which is conducting its own environmental-impact study on the diversion, has indicated it will not grant any construction permits until that study is completed, according the DeZellar.

Safety and supply

The project also addresses the city of Drayton’s concerns with a long-term stable water supply, according to Mark Lambrecht, an engineer with Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services, Grand Forks, which does engineering work for the city.

It would create a permanent pool of water for Drayton’s water department and the water treatment plant, which supplies the Crystal factory.

“As we replace the Drayton Dam, it’s critical that we address water levels,” DeZellar said. “We want to maintain the water levels, but that’s unrelated to the flooding aspects.”

City officials also have been concerned about unstable soil along the banks of the river, which cuts right through downtown.

DeZellar said the project is being designed to prevent any adverse effects on streambank erosion.

For more info: Call Carol Gardner, city of Drayton, at (701) 454-3590, or Elliott Stefanik, Corps of Engineers, at (651) 290-5260.

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