The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

 
 

Wisconsin town uses explosives on frozen creek

 

Associated Press

IN THIS photo taken on Tuesday water flows through Sand Lake Coulee Creek in the town of Onalaska, Wis., after crews used dynamite to help clear up to 5 feet of ice. After the blast, crews dug out the ice and created a channel for the water.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - One Wisconsin town among the many dealing with frozen waterways and clogged drains because melted snow has no place to go has tried an explosive new approach: blowing up a creek.

Town of Onalaska officials hired an Iowa-based blaster to stick several hundred sticks of plastic explosives in the frozen Sand Lake Coulee Creek and blow it up on Friday.

"It was awesome," said town chairman Rolly Bogert.

Officials turned to explosives because when it rained on Feb. 23, the water ran on the ice and was going around a dike that protects about a dozen homes. The town checked with law enforcement and wildlife experts, and the approach was determined to be legal.

Afterward, crews dug out the ice and created a channel for the water.

"I've been working here for 34 years," said Dave Pericak, a Department of Natural Resources water field supervisor for northwest Wisconsin. "I've never had a request to do this before."

In his 50 years in the business, Jerry McManigle, from Chickasaw County, Iowa, said he's blown up barns, silos, foundations and the occasional beaver dam.

"That is the first creek I've done," he said. "I just did it by the seat of my pants."

Meanwhile, in the Chippewa Valley, Monday's 50 degree temperatures caused snow and ice to melt quickly, causing reports of broken pipes and flooded basements to become more common.

"When it gets warm fast like it has, you have fast thaws, and all these storm sewers are taxed and running to their maximum," said Fred Gardner, president of Badger State, a heating and plumbing company in Eau Claire.

Multiple Eau Claire area plumbers said they have been swamped with snowmelt-related calls.

"The phone traffic and the amount of issues have almost been overwhelming," said Dan Wiersgalla, a master plumber at Wiersgalla Co. in Eau Claire.

In Brown County road crews were out clearing snow and ice from curbs and shoulders as the warm up caused minor, localized flooding.

"We're keeping up," said De Pere Public Works Director Scott Thoreson. "It warms up for a few days and then chills out. That's a good thing. I'll call it Mother Nature being kind to us.