COON RAPIDS, MN – Two local lawmakers introduced legislation (HF2253) this week to include vital repairs to the Coon Rapids Dam in the state’s 2010 bonding bill. State Reps. Melissa Hortman (DFL – Brooklyn Park) and Jerry Newton (DFL – Coon Rapids) say the repairs are urgently needed, and the bill should be passed this year. Recently officials discovered that a large concrete section of the dam has collapsed and fallen into the Mississippi River. Now, water pouring off the dam has dug a 100 meter hole into the river bed below, threatening the long-term integrity of the dam structure.
“Making these needed repairs is critically important to avoid potential long-term damage to recreation sites and private property along the Mississippi River," said Rep. Newton, who has been discussing the possibility of restoring the dam’s hydroelectric production capabilities with community leaders and area citizens. “What’s more, the measure will help preserve one of the state’s last lines of defense against the impending invasion of damaging Asian Carp in Minnesota lakes and streams.”
The Coon Rapids Dam is widely understood to be the only remaining structure preventing the northern flow of Asian Carp species in the Mississippi River. Environmental experts, anglers, and area residents worry that without the dam in place, this damaging invasive species could continue its migration upstream, and into other tributaries – including the Rum River which ultimately flows into Lake Mille Lacs.
“If you live in this area, you know the Coon Rapids Dam is important,” said Rep. Hortman. “Not only for boat recreation above the dam, but for the bike and pedestrian trail across the River to fishing to providing a tool that helps predictably regulate the flow of water through this area, the dam provides a valuable service to all area residents.”
But repairs to the structure are needed urgently in order to prevent the further damaging erosion to the river bed, and ensure the long-term structural integrity of the dam itself. According to Rep. Newton, the $8 million project is precisely the kind of proposal that should be included in this year’s jobs-targeted bonding bill.
“The House Capital Investment Committee is targeting this year’s bonding bill toward projects that can get underway immediately, in order to get Minnesotans off the bench and back on the job,” Newton. “This project is ready to go; and the impact of this wise investment today will be felt for years to come in all of the North Metro communities that benefit from the Coon Rapids Dam.”
The Minnesota Legislature is scheduled to reconvene on Thursday, February 4.