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Demolition is back on track

The end is nearing for the two dams that span the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea The Hydroelectric Dam that spans the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge will be removed within the next year. The City Council on Monday hired Rachel Contracting Inc., of St. Michael, Minnesota, to do the job at a cost of about $1.2 million.

The end is nearing for the two dams that span the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge.

The City Council, which was thwarted last month when it planned to award contracts for the demolition of the Hydroelectric Dam and what’s commonly called the little dam, on Monday finally hired a company to do the work.

Rachel Contracting Inc., of St. Michael, Minnesota, will be paid $274,784 to remove the little dam and $1,186,302.86 to remove the Hydroelectric Dam.

The work should begin in February and could be finished in a couple of months, according to City Engineer Tony Trotter.

The upcoming demolition work will resolve decades of debate over the future of the dams. The council had finally resolved to press ahead with the demolition of the dams and was ready to award contracts to do so during its Dec. 10, 2018, meeting. However, at about 4:30 p.m. that day, a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called a consulting engineer working for the city and informed him that permits for removing the dams would not be awarded because the State Historic Preservation Office had concerns about the proposal.

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea Frigid water tumbles over the spillway at what’s commonly called the Little Dam in Fort Dodge Monday afternoon. That dam will be removed within the next year as a result of City Council action Monday.

City officials subsequently met with the Army Corps of Engineers and the State Historic Preservation Office to resolve those concerns.

One result of those talks is that city officials agreed to leave in place the framework of one gate of the Hydroelectric Dam, Trotter said.

“All permitting has been resolved,” Nicole Church, an environmental specialist with Snyder & Associates, of Ankeny, told the council Monday.

Church said the dams are being removed for safety and environmental reasons.

“Dams are known as drowning machines,” she said.

She added that dams prevent fish from moving up and down stream. She said the state Department of Natural Resources did a study of the Des Moines River in about 2013 that revealed that fish species found downstream of the Hydroelectric Dam are not found upstream of it.

There is also an accumulation of sediment behind the Hydroelectric Dam, according to Church.

She said the DNR wants unused dams to be removed.

In response to a question from Councilman Dean Hill, Church said some structures like jetties are being designed to be built in the river, especially near the little dam, to improve fishing.

Other bidders for the little dam demolition job were Rasch Construction Inc., Fort Dodge, $440,817; Firstmark Construction, Bozeman, Montana, $483,609.60; Richards Construction, Sac City, $490,900.60; Crow River Construction, New London, Minnesota, $560,200; Engineering & Construction Innovation, Oakdale, Minnesota, $744,945; and Peterson Contractors Inc., Reinbeck, $810,162.60.

Other bidders for the Hydroelectric Dam removal were Firstmark Construction, $1,615,300; Crow River Construction, $1,661,371; Newt Marine Service, Dubuque, $1,698,116; and Peterson Contractors Inc., $1,898,374.50.