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Lake association and DNR reach agreement

Water rushes from a gate raised Monday at the Little Falls Lake dam in the town of St. Joseph. The lake is being drained as part of safety concerns with the dam’s foundation and other critical features. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Mike Longaecker)

The Lake Mallalieu Association and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have reached an agreement that gave the green light to the drawdown at the Little Falls Dam in Willow River State Park.

The drawdown was on hold as a result of an injunction filed by property owners concerned about the effect the process would have on water quality and quantity in Lake Mallalieu. Lawyers for the association, Dennis Schertz and Clarence  Malick, with Assistant Attorney General Thomas Dawson by phone, informed  St. Croix County Judge Scott Needham of the agreement at a hearing on Friday. Needham praised the association and DNR officials as well as the lawyers involved for their efforts to reach a solution that was acceptable to everyone.

The agreement amends the original drawdown strategy and calls for the following:

—Park staff will monitor and report to association members gate openings and lake levels twice a day, at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

—Association members, namely Jim Thomas and Doug Meyers, will monitor and report turbidity levels (sediment in the water) at locations in the lake to the DNR daily.

—The agreement also stipulates that an agreed upon dropdown of Lake Mallalieu scheduled to begin July 1 will not drop the water level more than 6 inches per day to a maximum drawdown of 2 feet. The DNR will “closely monitor the process and will make adjustments including but not limited to the halting of the Little Falls dam drawdown in order to control excessive sediment discharge into Lake Mallalieu.”

Malick said the agreement was the result of three conferences and “great cooperation” between Dawson and DNR personnel and the association.

Malick said the association did not take the step of requesting the injunction lightly but felt it was necessary to get important information on a number issues prior to the drawdown.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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