The Burlington Dam/Echo Lake Burlington, Wisconsin

The Burlington Dam/Echo Lake Burlington, Wisconsin

Federal Mandate requires the City of Burlington to develop a plan that will increase the strength of the current dam at Echo Lake. The current dam has not failed and is not in any danger of failing however, the mandate requirements will bring the dam to a 500 year flood level.

Locally, The White River and Honey Creek both feed into Echo lake. Through the years, Echo Lake has gone through changes due to natural occurring events such as sediment build up and other natural processes.

The city of Burlington has hired an outside company that will study all aspects and conditions that exist today with both the Burlington dam and Echo lake. The city is hoping to have answers and options in two to three months.

Residents of the city of Burlington have been divided on whether or not the dam should be saved. A Facebook page has been created to help “Save The Dam” and to provide more information regarding the dam.

The below information is from the City of Burlington…

What is wrong with the Echo Lake dam?
The Echo Lake Dam is out of compliance with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) regulations. WDNR requires that during a 500-year flood all water is contained within the dam spillway and water does spill out around the sides of the dam. Currently, the Echo Lake Dam cannot contain a 500-year flood. Keeping the dam as it exists today will not be an option for the City. It must either be modified or removed. These changes must be made before July of 2025.

Is it true the Echo Lake dam will be removed?
Removal of the Echo Lake Dam is one way to achieve compliance with WDNR requirements. Compliance may also be achieved by keeping the dam, but making modifications. Dam modifications or removal are complex and potentially very impactful to the area where the dam is located. The City has contracted with Ayers Associates to conduct a spillway feasibility study of the Echo Lake Dam to better understand what options are available, and what impacts those options carry for the community.

Is the City considering keeping the dam and improving Echo Lake?
Ayers and Associates will provide three options for modifying the Echo Lake Dam that would achieve compliance without removing the dam. It is unknown how much of an impact these modifications will have on the existing dam, Echo Lake, and Echo Park. Ayers and Associates is also testing the lake bed sediment to explore lake dredging as a potential project to go along with dam modifications or removal.

When will the information from the analysis be available?
The results of the study will be available and discussed in the summer of 2021.

What will happen to Echo Lake if the dam is removed?
If dam removal is the selected option, a restoration plan will be necessary to address the changing path of the river. Ayers and Associates will provide restoration plan concepts as part of the feasibility study.

Will removing the dam cause the river to flood?
The Echo Lake dam does not have the ability to control flooding on the Fox River and only slows the flow of the White River coming into the Fox River. Dam removal would have impacts on the river level, but to what extent is currently not known. This impact is one of many considerations being explored as part of the project Ayers Associates is working on.

How much will repairs or removal cost the City?
Ayers Associates will present three different dam modification options and a dam removal option as part of the study. These options will have cost estimates. This information will not be known until summer of 2021.