I spoke with the DNR Water Management Engineer managing this project. Very friendly and helpful. I have really been impressed with the DNR on all fronts relating to the dredging project. I'm sure they have received plenty of phone calls on this...
That said, here is what I know. The draw down by the Racine County Sewage District has already begun, as all parties involved (including the DNR) intend to approve the draw down request. They are simply getting ahead of the game.
The scope of the project is to dredge the Wind Lake Drainage Canal from Highway K to Highway 36. Some of the sediment will be hauled away, some will be utilized to build back up the banks of the canal, and some will be spread out in adjacent fields pending land owner approval. The work will begin soon, and water levels are expected to return to normal by mid February. All in all I think that this is great, as the canal structure is quite predictable - it is 6 feet from the mouth of the Fox to the Wind Lake Dam. The intent is to return the canal to its original depth in the 50's. Deeper water on this waterway will only help!
As mentioned above, I completely understand and support maintenance on the waterway / canal. Although the timing prohibits me from fall fishing and duck hunting. My perspective is that to maximize the enjoyment of the people who utilize this waterway, completing this project between Dec 1 and the ladder part of March would offer the least amount of disruption for us folks who like to hunt and fish.
Also, admittedly I have no formal training in fishery management, but the current water level truly concerns me. Not because I can’t use the waterway, but because I’m unsure of the impact that the shallow water will have on the Walleye, Northern, Musky, Bass, and Panfish during the winter months. As many of you know, I frequent this waterway more than most. To date, the deepest spot I have found on the Fox River or Canal is just under 6 feet.
Given the exposed shoreline in my back yard, and the watermarks on the bridge in the attached picture, it is reasonable to assume that the deepest spot on the waterway is currently somewhere around 3 feet. Also,as you may expect, given the low water levels, the flow has decreased dramatically. How will another severe winter impact the fish? Given the low water level, is there the potential for some areas to freeze solid? Of course I don’t have the answers, I just want to ensure that someone is looking at this.
Keep in mind, this impacts more than the drainage canal and the Fox River between the Waterford and Rochester Dam. The area being dredged feeds into Fox, so anything after the Waterford Dam is being impacted. Have any of you noticed the low water level at Case Eagle Park in Rochester? Pretty much unfishable - and this is after the dam in Rochester not before. To add another consideration, from the Rochester Dam to Burlington is notoriously shallow already, with many areas already less than 3 feet
Lastly, they will be holding hearings, as the Racine County Sewage District is requesting an annual Winter draw down. That means the waterway will be largely unfishable after Oct. 1st each year.
I will post the public hearing information as I learn more...
Again, I support the ongoing maintenance needed to support this waterway - would just like to have some input as to when the draw down will occur, as well as how low the water levels are allowed to go.
More to come...
[This post was last edited on 10/22/14 at 7:25 PM]