The City of Burlington is asking residents to provide their opinions on the future of the Echo Lake Dam in downtown Burlington. Officials have created a survey that will be available until Jan. 17. (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

Survey on future of Echo Lake now available for residents

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

Residents have another way to chime in on the long-term future of the Echo Lake dam through an online survey provided by the City of Burlington.

The city has already received some feedback during a community meeting held Nov. 30 at Veterans Terrace and another is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 12 at the same venue. However, the online survey allows residents unable to attend either meeting to provide input on the dam and Echo Lake.

The online survey is similar to a questionnaire distributed to residents who attended the Nov. 30 meeting. The survey can be access at the following link: DAM SURVEY

Residents can express their preferences for dam improvements, or removal of the structure, to achieve regulatory compliance from the state Department of Natural Resources. Improving the dam will retain Echo Lake and removing the dam will drain Echo Lake as the White River recedes to a natural stream path. Both of those options come with additional proposed expenses for dredging of Echo Lake or recreational improvements to the wetland created if the lake is drained.

The DNR, according to a Dam Failure Analysis in 2015, classifies the Echo Lake dam as a “significant” hazard based on the structure’s relative size and the fact that it cannot contain a 500-year flood without overtopping the embankment into Echo Park.

Since the dam does not meet the state standards, the City of Burlington needs to find alternatives to bring it into compliance by 2025.

City Administrator Carina Walters said on Dec. 17 the city wants to give residents every opportunity to offer input, and the online survey would help with Burlington’s efforts.

“If you have not had an opportunity to understand the challenges regarding the dam in past newspaper articles or public meetings, you can always obtain information via an open house scheduled at Vet’s Terrace … on Jan. 12 beginning at 6 p.m.,” Walters wrote in an email.

Walters noted the same survey is available to residents who do not have internet access at the Department of Public Works, 2200 S. Pine St., where they can fill out a hard copy of the form during business hours.

Peter Riggs, director of public works, previously said the survey aims to gather the views of residents for presentation to the Common Council.

“We really hope to get some really good input from the residents and attendees, so that we can condense all of that information and provide it to the Common Council, (and) the mayor to help them understand the community sentiment,” Riggs said during the initial community meeting.

According to Walters, the survey will close on Jan. 17, five days after the final community input meeting at Veteran’s Terrace.

To read and expanded version of this story, which explains the proposed options for the dam, see the Dec. 23 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.