Answers to Our Most Frequent Questions

The following is a list of questions that were generally asked in the public engagement session No. 1 survey. USDA's NRCS project staff is here to answer all public questions to the fullest extent possible about what's happening and what will be happening next.

Questions about the planning process

The planning process is a collaborative effort between people, interested groups, partners and government agencies affected by the watershed. They will determine the resource concerns in the watershed, the appropriate measures, and the preferred alternative(s) to solve these problems. Ad Astra has been hired by NRCS to assist the sponsor (the City of Litchfield) in producing a watershed plan that envelopes this process.
The watershed plan for Shoal Creek Structure #4 at Lake Lou Yaeger is a locally led document that will describe the existing conditions of the dam, develop alternatives for rehabilitation, evaluate and analyze reasonable alternatives for rehabilitation in detail, and identify the most technically, economically, socially, and environmentally defensible alternative as the Preferred Alternative as determined by NRCS in consultation with the City of Litchfield.

  • Winter 2020/Spring 2021
    • Develop the Purpose and Need
    • Hold first public meeting
    •

Questions about the rationale for the project: Tonya Flannery, City of Litchfield, City Administrator (217) 324-8151
Questions about the watershed planning process and details: Matt Harper, Ad Astra, Water Resources Engineer (314) 458-7852
Questions about funding for watershed planning: Aaron Engstrom, USDA-NRCS, District Conservationist (217) 532-3610 ext. 3

Questions about the project's impact

Impacts are dependent upon preferred alternative.

Dredging of excess sediment could be an alternative that is reviewed in the watershed plan.  During the data collection for the watershed plan, the entire lake bottom was surveyed so that sedimentation rates can be estimated. This information would then help determine whether there is a sedimentation problem.

This study does not address management of water releases from the dam and spillway. Management of lake levels and water releases is the responsibility of the City of Litchfield.

  • All work is anticipated to occur on publicly owned land.
  • No private properties exist adjacent to the dam rehabilitation area described on the improvement alternatives and preferred alternative maps.
  • Dam will remain in place at its current location.
  • Meeting State and Federal criteria and standards for dam safety
  • Maintain or improve levels of flood protection and downstream safety
  • On-going availability of public drinking water
  • Extended lake life and recreational opportunities
  • Maintain existing natural resources (wildlife, conservation area, etc.)

The watershed plan is fully funded by USDA-NRCS through the Watershed Program – Watershed Rehabilitation Program. This program is to assist local sponsors of PL-566 dams in upgrading the structures. Most of these dams were constructed more than 50 years ago and are past their service life. For more information about this program, go here.
Federal funding for design and construction of rehabilitation of PL-566 dams shall be up to 65% of the total rehabilitation cost. Therefore, the sponsor is responsible for the remaining costs.
Taxes will not be increased because of this study.

Questions about the dam and its structures

Dam classification – based on level of potential hazard to life and property should the dam suddenly breach (break) or fail.

  • Dam does not meet current NRCS or State of Illinois dam safety criteria 
    • Engineering modeling of the existing dam shows that water would flow over the auxiliary spillway during storm events smaller than the 100-year event. This is not allowed under current state and federal dam safety criteria.
    • While unlikely, the modeling also shows the potential for the dam to be overtopped or breached during extreme rainfall events.