ELKHART — Flooded basements and soggy yards may become a thing of the past for residents who live along Simonton Lake.
Elkhart County is negotiating a contract with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, for a project that would control water flowing into the lake. A weir, or a small dam, would help prevent flooding that occurs when the lake’s water levels rise after heavy rain.
Discussions about the Simonton Lake project started two decades ago when the county was setting a legal elevation level for the lake. At one point, DNR had planned to pay for a weir to be built but later discovered that a statute in Indiana code only requires the state to pay for half of the construction costs, said county councilman David Foutz.
“This thing has moved with glacial speed, and we haven’t been able to get anything done, so things are really moving now,” said Foutz, who lives in the Simonton Lake area in the northern part of the county.
DNR has come back to the table offering to pay half of the construction costs up to $100,000. Members of the Simonton Lake Homeowners Association and the county would split the remaining costs, according to the new contract. If all parties sign on the dotted line, a weir would be installed at Lily Creek, also known as Osolo Township Ditch, north of C.R. 4 and south of the lake. The contract expires at the end of 2014.
Steve Schweisberger, the county’s deputy surveyor, said the cost of construction will depend on bids. A cost estimate for the project, not including design and engineering plans, is roughly $120,000, he said.
Foutz said funding for the lake project could be supported by an annual drainage fee paid by county residents. The county’s drainage board will review the contract today, Dec. 11.