The Pelican Rapids damsite is in need of repairs that could exceed $1 million. The original concrete spillway was construct-
ed between 1914 and 1915. Prior, the dam was a timber structure dating to the 1880s.

A complete report of the condition of the Pelican Rapids city dam has been released.

Repairs or complete replacement of some of the structures are projected to cost between $852,000 and $1 million.

The good news: It’s not quite as bad a shape as anticipated, said Rick St. Germaine of Houston Engineering, which conducted the assessment.

“It’s not likely to tip over,” said St. Germaine. The bad news: The assessment will now enter a third phase.

Prompting the additional assessment work was a large “sinkhole” that opened up by the block “pump house” building to the south of the dam.

Excessive water is flowing into and around the pump house, causing severe erosion. Determining the causes and solutions will now drive a third phase of the assessment.

A major dam renovation was completed in 1987-1988.

The proposed projects would extend the life of the dam 20 years. The process would take three months, after spring run-off to fall.

The proposals:

• Repair of the spillway structure: $214,240; or complete replacement of the structure, at $364, 876.
• Reconstructing the retaining wall, part of which collapsed in the summer of 2016: $637,798.
• Solving the erosion and sinkhole problem around the pumphouse: Cost unknown as yet.

The project is expected to be discussed further, possibly at the Nov. 28 city council meeting.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fisheries officials and hydrology experts are expected to outline the possibilities of waterway modifications to allow fish passage–similar to those proposed at the Phelps Mill dam (see accompanying article).

Modifications or removal of the dam would likely be covered by the DNR, if fish and aquatic species features are included in the project.

“We want to start a conversation; share all the information…in a town hall meeting format,” said Pelican city administrator Don Solga.