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Update: Dry conditions mean road near Milford will not be breached

File Photo: Mark Kinseth stands on Lower Gar Road in Milford, Iowa, Thursday. The Army Corps of Engineers is debating whether to destroy the road, following authorization of emergency measures by Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, in order to prevent flooding and property damage. (Kari Lucin/Daily Globe)

2:45 p.m. Update

MILFORD, Iowa -- After a dry, chilly weekend, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided not to breach 230th Avenue between Lower Gar Lake and its Mill Creek outlet.

The project was designed to alleviate flooding, but revised runoff and weather forecasts showed the lake is unlikely to flood. Unless a major rainstorm occurs in the next few days, officials say, the project will not go forward, and no such rainstorm is predicted.

"We've been blessed with what I would like to describe as 'ideal melt conditions.' We've had no more rain or snow, we've had cool daytime temperatures and cold nighttime temperatures, and that has really slowed the melt," said Paul Johnston, Chief of Public Affairs for the Omaha District of the Corps of Engineers. "And when that happens, you get a lot more absorption. So the lake we expect to crest lower than what we were looking at before."

The updated crest prediction is elevation 1,397.3 to 1,397.6 feet above sea level, which is about .4 to 1 foot below the point at which damage to infrastructure or homes would begin. The lake would have to reach 1,398.3 to be considered in a flood stage, and in 1993, the record was set when the lake hit 1,400 feet above sea level.

The project has been put on hold indefinitely and will not go forward "unless we get a bunch of rain that threatens that critical elevation again -- when critical infrastructure or homes start receiving damage," said Dan Eckert, Dickinson County engineer.

Initial forecasts had been for 100 percent runoff and average precipitation, but the revised forecast includes a forecast of 60 to 80 percent runoff and below average rainfall.

Soukup Construction, Inc., of Sioux Falls, had been awarded a $69,000 contract to excavate the road within 72 hours of receiving the go-ahead from the Corps of Engineers. Now that go-ahead will almost certainly never come.

"I would expect that the contract will be terminated in the coming days, but we don't have a date certain for that," Johnston said.

Soukup will receive a yet-to-be-determined amount of compensation for its mobilization costs.

11:05 a.m. Original Story

MILFORD, Iowa - The excavation of 230th Avenue near Milford in order to prevent flooding has been put on an indefinite hold, Dickinson County officials learned Monday.

"They just ran new forecasting models and the lake is now projected to crest at an elevation below the damage point," said Dan Eckert, Dickinson County engineer.

Because the lake levels will not be high, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not need to breach the road, allowing water from the lake to flow downstream faster rather than possibly flooding homes along Lower Gar Lake.

The project will not go forward unless an extreme amount of rain occurs - which, Eckert said, is not in the forecast.

Currently, water is running at about a foot over the small weir dam next to 230th Avenue, and the ordinary high water mark is 30 inches. During the 1993 flood, water flowed more than 4 feet over the dam.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.