UPDATE: DNR working to draw down water level at Vern Wolfe Lake dam

The Vern Wolfe Lake Dam  is at the left in this screenshot of a Google map.

The Vern Wolfe Lake Dam is at the left in this screenshot of a Google map.

Department of Natural Resources staff and others worked today to try to allow additional water to flow out of Vern Wolfe Lake in an effort to prevent a failure of the lake’s dam.

The danger of the dam failing has kept nearby Highway 75 in Brighton closed to all traffic between Highway 142 and Highway JB since Friday afternoon.

The following update on efforts at the dam was released today by the DNR:

The DNR conservation wardens were among the team of public safety and emergency workers who today initiated a successful controlled drawdown at Kenosha County’s Vern Wolf Lake Dam that has been under strain after recent heavy rains and embankment erosion. “We are currently doing a controlled drawdown which is no different than the ones the Department of Natural Resources has done in the past,” Warden Supervisor Jen Niemeyer said after being on site all day. Niemeyer and her warden team that covers Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties have been helping at the scene since last week. The Monday drawdown started with the removal of a board from the inlet structure to begin lowering water levels. “DNR wardens and rangers will continue to monitor the dam 24/7 until the controlled drawdown is at a comfortable level,” Niemeyer said. “We have a system in place to protect public health and safety,” she said. “All possible affected homeowners also have been notified.” The Vern Wolf Lake Dam is in the Richard Bong State Recreation Area, where some trails in and around the recreation area have been posted as closed. The Bong recreation area is eight miles southeast of Burlington. Niemeyer’s warden team along with DNR park rangers also are working with the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department to staff barricades on State Highway 75, which is closed to traffic where the lake is closest to the road. That stretch is between State Highway 142 and County Highway K. “Vern Wolf Lake is not fed by any streams – only by run-off,” Niemeyer said. The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, Public Works and Emergency Management officials along with the Dover and Kansasville fire departments and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation also are working on this emergency situation, Niemeyer said.

Salem Fire/Rescue Chief Mike Slover said his department also was on the scene today at the invitation of the DNR during the board removal process.


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