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DNR continues to draw down water at Net River Dam in Baraga County

The water level on a 400-acre impoundment on the Net River in Baraga County is expected to be drawn down into next year, as part of the process of making repairs to a dam that failed partially in late April.

The dam is located on the south outlet of the Net River Flooding. The area is managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

In late April, corrosion of a water control structure in the middle of the dam caused a sinkhole to develop. The upstream and downstream embankments continued to retain water behind the impoundment as they are designed to do.

The DNR is now lowering the water to make repairs to the dam.

“We are working through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy process to minimize ecological impacts to the aquatic system, fisheries, wild rice resources and other values, while ensuring public safety,” said Bill Scullon, DNR wildlife field operations manager. “The water hasn’t come down much yet, but the public can expect the water to be drawn down this summer and will likely be down into 2023.”

The drawdown will affect the boating access site to the point of either not being usable or limited to carry down only until the water level has dropped to historical riverbank width.

Other nearby boating and fishing opportunities on the Net River corridor include Wide Waters and Snake Rapids.

The Net River Flooding is a culturally important impoundment that supports a variety of fish and wildlife, and the area has benefited from a habitat restoration partnership with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

The partial failure of the low-risk dam was said to pose no danger for humans downstream, nor for fish and wildlife, with the amount of water flowing through the structure considered normal.

The Net River dam was inspected in August 2020 and received a rating of fair.

Contact: Brad Johnson, 906-353-6651