Delavan Lake, Mill Pond closed until water recedes, swimming deemed safe

By Michael S. Hoey


The town and city of Delavan sustained minor flood damage as a result of a storm that dumped as many as 7 inches of rain in parts of southeastern Wisconsin in the early morning hours of July 12. The local area did not get hit as hard as some neighboring communities.

“We dodged a bullet,” said City of Delavan Public Works Director Mark Wendorf.

Wendorf said Elkhorn and Burlington were affected much more the Delavan was. He said he personally saw some of the flooding of properties in Elkhorn and knew that the City of Burlington suffered heavy flooding. He said points to the east received much more rain than the reported 3.6 inches that fell in the City of Delavan. Town of Delavan Administrator John Olson said the township had some places report close to 7 inches of rain.

Burlington was hit hard with the Fox River surpassing the previous record flood stage by 3 feet. The city was under a curfew for three days and the National Guard was called out after Gov. Scott Walker declared parts of three counties to be in a state of emergency.

City of Delavan Police and Fire Chief Tim O’Neill said many of his fire personnel went to Burlington to help there. O’Neill said much of the city was without power, several bridges over the Fox River were closed and a curfew was in place. O’Neill said the City of Delavan’s storm sewers took most of the water that fell in the city well. He said the creeks were swollen and the Delavan Lake water level was up, but his department received no flood-related calls.

Wendorf said the water level peaked on Delavan Lake Thursday night. Olson said the lake was 22 inches higher than its average level on Wednesday and the lake was about at its average before the storm. The water level was down to 20 inches above average by Friday morning.

Wendorf said some localized flooding occurred on city streets after the storm, but overall most of the city’s storm water detention basins worked well. He said the city was still dealing with flows through Swan Creek, the creek that comes into the city from Delavan Lake and winds through Delbrook Golf Course, Springs Parks and under Highway 11 before passing next to the mill pond and emptying into Turtle Creek.

The Swan Creek floodplain is almost entirely city property, Wendorf said, so very little private property has been affected by the creek’s overflowing water level. Wendorf said the sanitary sewer system also was not affected.

Lower Springs Park sustained flooding with some walking paths overtaken by creek water, and the Mill Pond is closed until further notice because water from Swan Creek flowed across the berm separating the pond from the creek. Wendorf said that after the water recedes, the mill pond water will be tested to be sure it is safe before the recreational swim facility will be re-opened.

Wendorf said the Mill Pond dam was opened as far as it could be to alleviate some of the flooding. The Lake Comus dam was opened 60 percent. Wendorf said it could not be opened more without the risk of flooding areas downstream, and the lake itself, while higher than normal, was again within its banks. Klug Road, west of the city, was already closed because to flooding.

Olson said some flooding occurred on Valencia Drive. Town Clerk Dixie Bernstein said Mound Road, Bailey Road and South Shore Drive also experienced flooding. Olson said it was too soon to tell how much if any aid the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide to affected property owners.

Olson said Delavan Lake would remain closed at least through the weekend with all public boat launches closed and a slow-no wake order for the lake. He said short-term, some roads experienced wash-outs as did the beach at Community Park. More sand will have to be brought in and other clean-up will take place at the beach. Olson was unsure how the storm would affect the blue-green algae or elevated level of E. coli that led to the beach being closed the week before. Bernsteen said the water was tested July 13 but results were not in yet.

Bernsteen also said many boats were lifted off their lifts and unsecured piers were floating in the lake after the storm. She said the police department was working to gather as much of the debris as possible and deposit it on the shore. Anyone missing parts of a pier can call the police department.


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