Beaver Dam makes changes after 5 to 10-thousand fish die during - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Beaver Dam makes changes after 5 to 10-thousand fish die during construction

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Courtesy: Gena Winter Courtesy: Gena Winter

BEAVER DAM (WKOW) -- City officials and lake experts are confident a construction project can move on without disrupting wildlife, after a massive fish kill in Beaver Dam. 

The city closed the dam at Cotton Mill Park on Thursday to lower water levels on the Beaver Dam River, so construction crews could pour concrete in culverts downstream at the Cooper Street bridge. City officials say they contacted Department of Natural Resources staff before the project to discuss plans. They say they did not expect as many fish to cross the dam from the lake into the river. Five to 10-thousand fish died because they didn't get enough oxygen in lowered water levels, according to experts.

It's a concern for people who visit the river regularly to fish.

"It's real disappointing, because there's a lot of wasted fish," says Daniel Meyer, from Beaver Dam. "This is good fishing down here. I come down here all the time. It's a good fishing spot all around. It's just hard to see that waste."

Mayor Becky Glewen says the road work has been going on for months and cannot be put on hold much longer, so the city will focus on ways to continue while keeping the river habitat a priority.

"It's a big connector for us and so we have to have access to that, to get to the hospital quickly," says Glewen. "We're looking at what other safeguards can we put into place so that it doesn't like this occur again."

DNR staff visited Beaver Dam Monday and city officials say they determined water levels are safe now. The construction crew was also asked to make some changes to continue the project, like adding a berm near the bridge work.

Beaver Dam Lake Improvement Association president Bill Boettge says the association spends $20-30-thousand every year to stock the lake with game fish, so it was disappointing to see many of those fish killed. He hopes better communication will keep the fish safe in future work.

"Why the river got as low as it did, that's a difficult issue, but we're going to monitor it closely, [have] better communication, and hopefully avoid the situation again," Boettge tells 27 News.

Boettge says the association does not plan to seek reimbursement for the lost fish, he just hopes it won't happen again.

A DNR spokesperson working on the issue did not respond Monday to 27 News requests for comment on the issue.

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