Right on schedule, the dam gates were lifted Friday (Nov. 1) to begin the drawdown of the Forestville Millpond along the Ahnapee River in southern Door County.

The Door County Board voted in January in favor of a two-year drawdown of the Forestville Millpond that supporters say will improve long-term water quality near the dam and opponents say will damage the river downstream in Kewaunee County.

The project was set to begin in November after the state Department of Natural Resources completed collecting data for a TMDL study of the Ahnapee and other rivers along the lakeshore.

Concerned Kewaunee County officials convinced the DNR to keep monitoring stations in place after the TMDL (total maximum daily load) study was completed to help determine the impact of the drawdown downstream.

“They’re going to test the Ahnapee River like we asked, but they’re going to trial some new technology on it,” County Conservationist Davina Bonness said during the Oct. 8 meeting of the county Land & Water Committee. “There’s an upstream location, and there’s a downstream location right at the Forestville Dam, and then there’s going to be one around Washington Road (just north of Algoma).”

The new equipment measures more than just nitrogen, phosphorus and suspended solids in the river, committee chairman Chuck Wagner said during the Oct. 15 County Board meeting.

“It’s now installed and running and paid for to run until next July,” Wagner said. “So we’re going to get at least eight months of testing besides the three sensors that were there to begin with.”