Dam’s role in water supply to be studied

Engineers will again be taking a look at the Hydroelectric Dam that spans the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge.

This time, they’ll be considering what, if anything, needs to be done to it if the city eventually has to draw water from the river.

City Council members indicated during a Monday evening workshop discussion that they would be willing to expand a current contract with McClure Engineering Co., of Fort Dodge, to have that firm do the needed work. The company would be paid $17,800. Formal action on the matter is expected to occur during the Feb. 11 council meeting.

The study will take about nine weeks to complete.

”We have to know what is the best course of action,” City Manager David Fierke told the council.

He said the council will be faced with a ”pretty big decision” after the results of the engineering study are received. He added that any work on the dam will be very expensive.

The city’s water supply now comes from wells. But future growth at the North Central Ag Industrial Park and in the city itself may make the water supply from wells insufficient.

When the Ag Industrial Park is developed to its fullest extent, the city will need 30 million gallons of water a day, according to Michael Washburn, an engineer with McClure Engineering Co.

The city now uses an average of 3 million gallons a day, Washburn said.

He said the Cargill plant in the Ag Industrial Park is expected to use 3 million gallons per day, while the CJ Bio America plant will use 2.5 million gallons per day.

Fierke said the planned engineering study will estimate how much water may have to be taken from the river every day and provide recommendations on the most economical ways to get that water. He added that it will be at least a decade before the city has to take water from the river.