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The Racine County Drainage District has been permitted to drawdown the Fox River at the Rochester Dam for the winter season of 2017-18. The permit allowed for drawdown to begin October 1, but do to warmer weather, it has been delayed to November 1 unless water temperatures drop to below 55 degrees. The temperature timeline as established to allow for herps (turtles, frogs) to prepare for hibernation. The water levels will be restored beginning February 15, 2018.The Fox River Citizen's Group and the Village worked diligently to ensure that the river was protected for fishing, recreation, and enjoyment, fighting to end the repeated overwinter drawdowns of the Rochester Dam and the devastation to the impoundment between the dams. Many meetings with the DNR, letters to legislators, visits to Madison, and the support of DNR fish and wildlife biologists and water resource managers who noted the negative impact the yearly drawdowns had on wildlife, fishery and recreational access and the health of the river and erosion led the DNR to deny the Drainage District's use of drawdowns when dredging their canals. The Village has never been in conflict about or denied the District's need, in fact responsibility to maintain the drainage canals. The Citizen's group and Village disputed the need to drawdown the Fox River and sought to project it. The DNR agreed to permit a single final year for the District to drawdown and complete their dredging project. Should it fail to complete it, the District must enlist alternative dredging methods that will not impact the river.
While the Village must endure another winter drawdown, the Fox River Citizen's Group and Village of Waterford are pleased to remind everyone that through their combined efforts to protect the Fox River, this will be the final drawdown of the river at the Rochester Dam. Riparian owners may wish to use this opportunity for their own maintenance or restoration of the shoreland, but must contact Elaine Johnson to learn if their project requires a permit, email@example.com.