Paint River drawdown begins


Staff Writer

CRYSTAL FALLS – Water levels on a portion of the Paint River in Crystal Falls will gradually be reduced over the next two weeks so workers can make some improvements to the city’s historic hydroelectric dam.

The affected area runs from the dam near Sixth Street upstream to about a quarter of a mile west of the U.S. 141 bridge.

Drawdown will occur at a rate of one foot per day for the first four days, then one and a half feet per day for the next 11 days for a total drop of about 20 feet.

Crystal Falls City Manager Dorothea Olson said that once the drawdown is complete, the water level will be reduced to the river’s original stream level.

Current water levels will not be restored until late August or early September.

During the drawdown period, workers will perform approximately $250,000 worth of repairs and maintenance to the dam, said Olson.

Work includes concrete inspection and resurfacing, spill gate seal maintenance, water pipe penetration sealing, and head gate maintenance.

Crystal Falls’ dam and power plant is located off of Sixth Street. It generates enough electricity for about a third of the city’s demand.

Originally constructed in 1891, the dam and power plant structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is likely the oldest hydroelectric plant in the Upper Peninsula that is still in operation.

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