A number of Kewaunee County residents plan to attend a meeting in Sturgeon Bay on Thursday in hopes of dissuading Door County officials from a plan to draw down the Forestville Dam for up to two years.

Several speakers on Tuesday urged the Kewaunee County Land & Water Conservation Committee to oppose the plan, saying contaminated soil now held back by the dam would add to pollution of the Ahnapee River downstream.

The Door County Land Conservation and Facilities & Parks committees plan to meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 10) at the Door County Government Center, 421 Nebraska St., Sturgeon Bay, to make a joint recommendation about the draw-down plan to the full Door County Board.

A study released this summer found poor water quality with high levels of phosphorus, along with contaminated sediment, in the Forestville Millpond, and the committees concluded that a draw-down and possibly removing the dam would be more cost-effective than dredging.

Forestville Dam

But residents south of Forestville said the proposed solution would exacerbate water quality issues south of the dam.

“This dam has an important function, although not by design, in controlling polluted sediment and preventing them from reaching the Ahnapee River downstream as its winds through Kewaunee County,” southern Door resident Robert Sijgers told the Kewaunee County committee Tuesday. “During an extended draw-down or removal of the dam, all this sediment will build up year after year along the entire stretch of the river. In short, during an extended drawdown or removal of the dam, Door County’s problems are added to Kewaunee’s, which would add only further to the impaired status of the Ahnapee.”

With the dam in place, officials can remove contaminated sediment as required, Sijgers said.

The Ahnapee River is on the federal government’s list of impaired or threatened waterways.

Nancy Utesch of the town of Pierce urged the Kewaunee County committee to get involved and oppose the Forestville proposal.

“If we’re trying to actual improve the conditions on the Ahnapee River, why would we allow Door County’s problems to be unplugged up there and sent down here?” Utesch said. “Why are we spending all these years doing a TMDL (total maximum daily load study) and having citizens do water testing for multiple years if we’re just willing to allow all of that sediment and that pollution from their problem to be uncorked and sent down our way?”