AMHERST - The small town of Amherst recently broke ground to replace their aging dam.
The dam was built on the Tomorrow River decades ago for power to the local feed mill.
The Wisconsin DNR believes the structure does not meet it's 500 year flood criteria.
This designation gave the town residents a choice.
"The determination of the DNR that the dam had to meet the 500 year flood lead us to the idea that we had to be able to release more water. The DNR basically brought this to the forefront and the village responded then," says Amherst Village President Michael Juris
This close knit town of just over 1000 residents took the decision very seriously.
"The residents of the village really had the opportunity to speak on what they wanted the vision of their village to be for the future. Whether to maintain the dam and the pond or to take it out and rehab it," says Juris.
Residents chose to keep the dam and thus the millpond.
With the decision made, the bidding process moved quickly and work has just started.
The new improved structure will use parts of the current one.
"Basically the stop plug structure of the dam is going to remain as it is because we found that in order to meet the 500 year flood requirements of the DNR we're going to be able to use the water that flows through the generating station," states Juris.
There were many options on the table and some that were just too expensive.
"It's been our determination that to dredge the millpond would be an expense that the taxpayers of the village at this time aren't going to be able to shoulder," says Juris
Still, bracing the structure to meet the DNR's strict 500 year criteria does not come cheap.
"We spent a fair amount of time in discussion before this decision was made because this is an expensive decision for a community our size. The original estimate was around 1.2 million dollars," says Juris.
Work moves quickly in Amherst as a completion date is set for this September.
"We expect that the substantial completion will be towards the end of August and with final completion early in September," says Juris.