The Future of the Mantorville Dam
The last meeting of the Mantorville Park Board was standing room only. Almost everyone was there for the primary agenda item: The future of the Mantorville dam.
I and most others in attendance thought the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the removal of the Mantorville dam. That was just one of the options that was discussed.
Two local men had requested time on the meeting agenda to present their concerns regarding the dam and the river. They also plan to appear before the Mantorville city council to request that their recommendation for the dam and the river be accepted.
In three years, the State of Minnesota is scheduled to inspect the Mantorville dam. The men are requesting that prior to the inspection, the city of Mantorville request that the state conduct a study of the dam and the river to determine what options are available for both.
One of the most controversial options would be to remove the dam and replace it with rocks, creating a rapids where the dam now exists. Doing so would allow for fish to migrate up and down the river. It would also allow kayakers and canoeists to travel down river without having to portage around the dam. Many people at the meeting expressed their displeasure with this option. Many of the opponents claimed that the dam was an iconic symbol of historic Mantorville and should be retained.
A few separate times during the meeting, the men making the presentation had to remind everyone that they were not requesting that the dam be removed. They were requesting that a study be done to determine what options are available for the future of the Zumbro River. Removing the dam would be one of the options to study.
Another option that several people showed interest in would be to leave the dam in place and build a channel around the dam. The channel would allow for fish migration, and for canoes and kayaks to navigate around the dam.
Some in attendance expressed concern about the quality of the water upriver from the dam. The consensus was that water quality should also be considered as part of the proposed study.
The men making the presentation live along the Zumbro River and are personally concerned about the river’s future. It was obvious that they had put a lot of time and effort into exploring the options for the dam and the river.
I also live along the Zumbro, between Wasioja and Mantorville. In the summer I see some canoes and kayaks traveling down the river. When the river freezes in the winter, the traffic increases dramatically. After snow covers the ice, the river becomes a public park. Hundreds of people travel up and down the Zumbro on the frozen water. Snowmobiles, four wheelers, people cross country skiing, people snow shoeing, and people just walking. Some will pull a sled for the toddlers to ride on. The river provides many options for outdoor recreation throughout the year. I hope the study is completed so we can see what opportunities we have going forward.
Photo: Adventures in Kasson Mantorville Terry Eckstein