Dike Repair Bids Have Wide Range
By Deb Patterson
SYRACUSE — While a special meeting of the Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy District was called for Tuesday, March 14, two unofficial meetings were held prior to the official meeting.
The meeting was called for the sole purpose to open bids on the renovation and repair of the Lake Wawasee Dike. No other business was transacted.
However, a Facebook post on a Lake Wawasee related page encouraged lake residents to attend the meeting to voice concerns over the high water level at the lake. Conservancy District President Bill Pipp was made aware of the post and posted a response indicating the sole purpose of the meeting. However, four individuals attended the meeting to discuss the lake levels.
During the public meeting only two bids were received for the project. The bids, which were over $400,000 apart, were taken under advisement. The awarding of the bid will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 21.
Chris Jeeter, Lawson-Fisher Associates, engineers for the project, opened bids from Jutte Excavating, Fort Recovery, Ohio, and Milestone Contractors North Inc., South Bend.
Jutte, who did the repair work at the water control device, submitted a bid of $636,890. Milestone, who cleared the land around the dike, submitted a bid of $1,098,165.50. The engineer’s estimate is $944,000.
It was thought one other contractor would be submitting a bid, but it was not received.
Jeeter will review the bids before making a recommendation. This includes the stipulation for the ability to complete the project by June. He stated he was not surprised in the low bid response. “In a perfect world, this would have gone to bid in late fall, before contractors had a full plate of work. With this project it was not possible due to the permitting involved,” said Jeeter.
High Water Addressed
Prior to the start of the meeting, Pipp addressed the concerns of Bob Dumford, Jim Boone and an unidentified man concerned about the high water. Concern was also expressed prior to closing the special meeting by Scott Mueller, representing the Marineland Gardens Association. Discussion with Mueller took place following adjournment of the special meeting.
Pipp stated by court mandate the lake level is to remain at 858.96. It is currently at 858.94. He noted there are three buoys on the lake reading lake levels: at Leeland Channel, Turkey Creek and Dillon Creek. “There are three or four more on line to show where the water (level) is everyday,” said Pipp.
He used the expression of not being able to put 10 pounds of flour in a 5-pound bag, which is the case with all the water coming into Lake Wawasee. He stated the readings are showing what is expected, the south end of the lake is the highest. It was said all that water has to funnel through smaller areas — Main Channel, railroad bridge, Front Street bridge and the water control device.
Incorrect calibration of the equipment was questioned, in which Pipp stated the equipment is calibrated regularly.
He stated that in 1942 when the lake level was set by the courts, no one had information about the lake levels and its fluctuation, nor did they think about Lake Wawasee. He indicated work is in the process of petitioning officials to allow two lake levels — one for the winter and one for the summer.
Additionally, it was stressed communication between associations and organizations is important. It was learned officials controlling the Papakeechie Dam had opened its flood gates without letting anyone know, particularly Chad Jonssen, who oversees the gates at the water control device at Syracuse. This is done yearly to bring Papakeechie Lake’s level down for better weed control outcomes.
Pipp also stated gates at the water control device are open the full 27 inches and have been for the last 2 1/2 weeks.
“In the long range, we will have historical data that gives Chad information so he will start knowing when to open the gates,” said Pipp. Currently lake level data is received by Jonssen via cell phone.
That future data will also provide information how fast water leaves the lake once it comes from Papakeechie and other tributaries.