The dam on the west side of Winona Lake next to the bridge on Country Club Road is getting partially reconstructed.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Water began work a couple of weeks ago, Winona Lake Preservation Association President Chris Cummins said. That work will take the dam from seven gates to four. Three gates will be filled in as a sea wall, and new spindles and gates will go on the remaining four gates. That work is expected to be completed by May, but it may go into June, Cummins said.
“We (WLPA) have the key to the dam and what we do is, in the spring, around May 1st, we close the dam, then we lower it down and let the lake fill up until it overflows,” Cummins said. “Then November 1st, we always open it and let the lake drop down, and the reason we do that is for property protection. The new spindles and gates will make it easier to go up and down for us.
“The gates are these giant plates that go up and down and hold the water back, and there are spindles on there that crank the wheel that control it to go up and down, and they were getting old and rusty. Then they (IDNR) realized there was no need to have that many gates. I’ve been president (of WLPA) for 14 years and about five years ago we just started only opening three gates in the wintertime,” he said.
Cummins said the state’s Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) funds pay for the project.
“Those funds are paid by the taxpayers, when you pay for your title for your boat, there’s a portion of that, a little bit of that goes to the LARE funding for the State Division of Water to be able to monitor and upgrade needed improvements to the lake be it dams or whatever it may be,” Cummins said.
He also said that the work crews will be able to dam the water if the project goes past May 1 in order to raise the water level for boaters.
For more information about the WLPA, contact Cummins at firstname.lastname@example.org. An update on the dam construction will be given by the state during the WLPA annual meeting in late April. More information will be released soon about when that meeting will be held, Cummins said.