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Area dam may get overhaul

Photo Contributed by the U.S. Forest Service Williams Lake is pictured in this undated photo. Williams Dam, the subject of a proposed renovation, is to the left of the lake.

A 1930s dam in Golden Valley County could receive a complete overhaul this summer and once again become a fishing spot for outdoor enthusiasts.

The U.S. Forest Service, Dakota Prairie Grasslands, is looking to rehabilitate Williams Dam located about 10 miles southeast of Golva.

"It's going to be a good project," said Ron Jablonski Jr., district ranger for the Medora Ranger District, Dakota Prairie Grasslands. "I think it's going to be a great one, to tell you the truth."

Jablonski said the project is in the planning stages and cost is unknown.

Jablonski said Williams Dam has been on a list of dams across the area that has been awaiting repair, replacement or demolition, for quite some time.

Comments on the project are welcomed until April 6.

Since the dam was constructed, waves from 20-acre Williams Lake have eroded the back side of the dam.

The dam's spillway is also cracked and leaking.

"The dam is at a point where it must either be removed or repaired," according to a notice from DPG.

Over the many years the dam has existed, the lake has also filled with sediment, causing a decrease its depth.

Since 1940, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department stocked the lake with fish, but quit doing so in 1993 as the decrease in depth was causing the fish to die off.

Jablonski said while some areas in the lake are about 9-feet deep and others filled with sediment, some areas should be at least 15 feet deep to maintain fish.

During the project, the dam would be breeched and Williams Lake dried out along with removal and replacement of a concrete spillway.

Jablonski estimates it would take about six months to a year for the lake to dry out before construction could begin.

Once dried out, the lake would be dug deeper and steps would be taken to protect the lake from wave erosion.

Access roads to the lake would be reconditioned and new signs added.

Previously, the dam served as a site for recreation such as fishing, swimming, hunting and picnicking as well as provides a water source for livestock.

Jablonski said a few facilities such as picnic tables and shelters may be added.

"It should have a very positive impact especially the folks out in Golden Valley County that are looking for fishing holes, looking for places to go have a picnic or go spend the day with the family," Jablonski said. "We're looking at it is a real positive addition to the area, an improvement to the area actually"

Once the project is completed, the lake would be restocked with fish.

Jeff Hendrickson, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Southwest District fisheries supervisor, said his department advised the Forest Service they would restock the lake if the lake was dredged.

While the types of fish haven't been decided, Hendrickson said past species included bass, bluegill and trout.

"That's probably what I'm leaning toward now," Hendrickson said.

The project will be funded by federal stimulus dollars as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"Here's an opportunity where we didn't have the money to do a project like this, now all of a sudden we've got the money to do this project so we're going to move forward and get this one done," Jablonski said.

If approved, construction would begin this summer and wrap up in 2011.

Oral comments on the project can be submitted to Jeff Adams by calling 701-227-7811.

E-mail comments to

Written comments should be sent to Jablonski at 99 23rd Ave. W., Suite B, Dickinson, ND 58601.