Chappel Dam

An above look at the face of the Chappel Dam in Sage Township. 

Upgrade and repair work to begin on Chappel Dam starting Oct. 1

GLADWIN – Residents living off of Wiggins Lake or below the Chappel Dam on the Cedar River will experience a slight change in the water level ahead of repairs and upgrades that will be made to the dam starting on Thursday, October 1. 

Mike Rajt, chairman on the Wiggins Lake Level Authority stated that the water level will need to be brought down in order for the work to be done properly. The lake will be lowered in water level by approximately one foot from the level the lake maintained throughout the summer. Once this process begins, the water level downstream of the dam will rise by a slight amount while the level is being adjusted for the lake. 

“We’re going to try to make it very minimal by lowering it by only four inches a day until it reaches the levels we can start to work on,” Rajt said. “We’re going to manage it so that the people downstream notice less of a change in the flow, than say, a thunderstorm.” 

According to him, the repairs and changes being made to the dam is estimated to be a 10 week process. Only a small portion of the work being done is actual repairs to the dam due to the fact that the dam did not sustain many damages during the May flooding. Most of the work will include upgrading the dam and improving it to better serve in future situations such as the disasters brought on in May. 

“If we had done last year what we are going to do this year, our only reaction for the May situation would have been feeling terrible for those people living downstream,” Rajt said. 

A major part of the project will include raising the south embankment wall by roughly two and a half feet to prevent any future issues such as the slight overflowing issue in May. While many local leaders helped to secure the embankment during the flood, this will reassure the security of the embankment for the future. 

The project itself has a total cost of $860,000 and is being funded by the residents with property on Wiggins Lake. Each resident with property on the lake is responsible for paying an estimated $1,750 to reach the amount needed for the project. According to the engineer for the project, the upgrades being made will secure the next 30-50 years of useful life with nothing other than routine maintenance being required.

Construction will begin on October 1 by Miller Development of Weidman, MI with the anticipation of equipment being moved on-site and the water level beginning to be lowered as early as next week. Rajt mentioned that the authority is hoping for a substantial completion by December 15. The project completion date will be swayed depending on the weather more than anything else but is firm on being operational for the next spring high water season according to Rajt.

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