Pine River - Dam Removal and Rock Riffle Replacement

Project History

In 2013 the City of Pine River initiated a Feasibility Study for the various options available to address the dam’s high hazard designation. In the course of the Norway Lake Dam Feasibility Study (2014) various alternatives were explored to meet the project need. The five overall concepts (including eleven sub-alternatives) included:

  1. Repair of the existing dam.
  2. Rehabilitation of the existing dam, adding flood capacity.
  3. Removal of the existing dam, and replacement with a new dam with more flood capacity.
  4. Removal of the existing dam and installation of rock riffle.
  5. Removal of the existing dam, with restoration of the river to its natural state.

DNR Fisheries completed a draft rock riffle concept in November of 2013 and a bypass fishway for a gated spillway design in 2014. Eleven spillway options were developed in 2014. Council meetings in 2014 discussed the various options along with benefits, impacts, costs, and potential funding sources for each. Of the available options, the City Council expressed a preference for the reconstruction and replacement of the existing dam with a gated structure, along with a bypass fishway; however, these options were found to have high capital costs and high long-term maintenance costs.

The City continued to seek a concept that would not dramatically change the reservoir, preserve and increase recreational functions near the existing dam, and have lower capital and long-term maintenance costs. As funding, constructability, and ecological benefits became clearer, the City of Pine River selected the removal of the dam and replacement with rock riffle as its preferred alternative. The engineered rapids will largely maintain the current pool elevation as that of the dam, but more variability to the water level will likely be introduced since flow will not be actively managed.

Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW)

The City proposes to replace the dam with a rock riffle/engineered rapids and to construct accessibility improvements at a downstream fishing area. The EAW, prepared pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 4410.4300, subpart 27, item A, describes the proposed project, impacts, and mitigation, with the City fulfilling the role of Responsible Government Unit (RGU).

A Notice of Availability appeared in the March 23, 2020 edition of the EQB Monitor and in the March 19, 2020 edition of the Pine and Lakes Echo Journal. Copies of the EAW are being distributed to agencies on the current Minnesota EQB Distribution List and to other interested parties. An electronic version of the EAW is posted here, should any of the locations below become closed, limiting access to physical copies. Physical copies are available at:

  • Pine River City Hall, Pine River
  • Kitchigami Regional Library
  • Environmental Conservation Library, Hennepin County Public Library, Minneapolis Central Government Documents

Written comments will be accepted through April 22, 2020 and should be directed to the RGU contact.


Environmental Assessment Worksheet - RGU

Terri Dabill - City Clerk

City of Pine River
200 Front Street – PO Box 87
Pine River, MN 56474


Project Engineer

Bryan Drown, PE
Bolton & Menk, Inc.
7656 Design Road, Suite 200
Baxter, Minnesota 56425