An embankment was installed near Ramsey Mill Dam Friday to keep water from flowing through the mill Old Mill Restaurant, which had caused low water levels up stream. Photo provided by Justin Hanson
An embankment was installed near Ramsey Mill Dam Friday to keep water from flowing through the mill Old Mill Restaurant, which had caused low water levels up stream. Photo provided by Justin Hanson

Archived Story

Embankment installed to fix low water levels near Old Mill

Published 5:42pm Friday, August 8, 2014

The Cedar River should soon be back to normal near the Ramsey Mill Pond.

Old Mill Restaurant owner Dave Forland and crews installed an embankment in front of the restaurant Friday, which should prevent excess water from flowing through the mill structure.

“The immediate concerns of upstream homeowners should be addressed by the impoundment work done on Friday,” Cedar River Watershed District resource specialist Justin Hanson said in an email. “Things should get back to ‘normal’ soon.”

Early this week, Forland received permission from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to take steps to fix the mill, which broke and caused water to flow through the raceway below the mill and caused abnormally low water levels north of the dam.

Water levels were already rising on Friday, and DNR officials estimated the water would be back over the dam by the end of the weekend.

The embankment impounded water back and will keep the majority of it from flowing through the restaurant, though a pipe was placed on the bottom end to provide limited flows to continue through the Old Mill and provide downstream flows, as the dam fills up.

The problem started after heavy rains in June caused high water. By July, residents along Ramsey Mill Pond noticed water levels falling far below normal — low enough that water wasn’t running over the dam. The DNR and engineers for Hormel Foods Corp., which owns Ramsey Dam, looked into the issue and realized it stemmed from the mill structure, which is owned by Forland.

When Forland bought the Old Mill about 20 years ago, he blocked off the old gates that allowed water to run through the mill. But after the flooding, Forland’s fix to dam off the water gave way, allowing water to run through.

Forland may still undertake a more permanent fix on the mill structure down the road.

DNR dam inspectors were on site this week to review the structure. The DNR representative found no major flaws in Ramsey Dam, a comprehensive review shouldn’t be needed until the next scheduled on in 2017.


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