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Dry conditions mean road near Milford will not be breached

Kari Lucin/Daily Globe The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opted not to breach 230th Avenue between Lower Gar Lake and its Mill Creek Outlet in order to alleviate flood conditions on the lake, after revised runoff forecasts showed the lake was unlikely to flood.

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, S.D. 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.