MENASHA, Wis. (NBC 26) — From boaters to anglers, many Northeast Wisconsinites depend on consistent water levels on Lake Winnebago.
But after almost a century, the barrier that helps make that possible is aging.
"The Menasha Dam was originally built in 1937, so it's coming up to close to 90 years old right now," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Public Affairs Specialist Jacob Zdrojewski said.
And to preserve it, the Corps of Engineers is working on a $1.5 million project to repair the Menasha Dam.
"Largely, that's going to be on the wall," Zdrojewski said. "The current wall is falling down and causes a threat for erosion."
The investment is part of a federal infrastructure law that was passed back in November. According to Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, the money used to update the dam is mainly sourced from unused Covid relief dollars.
"Right now, the project has been approved," Zdrojewski said. "It's in the design phase. So we don't really know what the wall will look when it's all completed."
Maintenance Dam Operator Luke Bartal says the Menasha Dam is typically used for flood risk management.
"In the wintertime, we draw the level down for ice shoves or ice damages on stakeholder properties," he said.
It can also provide water for certain activities.
"[In the] summertime, hold back water on to Lake Winnebago to recreational purposes or utility purposes," Bartal said.
There's no timetable for the start of construction, but the engineers hope it'll bolster the Fox River for decades to come.
"It'll be hopefully something new that will keep this place together for a lot longer," Zdrojewski said.