OXFORD — With few options to resolve long-term flooding at Jordan Lake, officials in the Adams County town of Jackson are struggling to deal with flooding that has plagued the area for months.
Town board member Bill Pegler said over spring and summer months the kettle lake that stretches about 233 acres has caused headaches for local landowners, a number of them with docks just feet from their houses. Especially on Fur Drive, which is just south of the lake and in close proximity to the water’s edge.
“Water has been crossing Fur for quite a while and going into the farm fields,” Pegler said.
The issues are most prominent in the Widow Green Drainage District. None of the traditional means for alleviating flooding tried by local landowners have helped and some even have made the problem worse. Pegler, who also serves as chairman of the Adams County Lake Alliance, said when residents on one side of the lake attempted to put sandbags down, water shifted to the other side and became even more overwhelming there.
Water in the lake, which has no natural outlet, has been 14 feet or more above normal levels. The public pier has been under water and flooding has extended between homes near the lake, stretching to Fur Drive and beyond. As of July 31, it was encroaching once more. Any rainfall that gathers in the area results in more overflow.
An acre of the lake translates to 325,000 gallons of water, meaning that nearly 76 million gallons are causing trouble there, Pegler said.
Adams County Conservationist Kason Morley said a wet fall and spring raised the groundwater to the point that water in lakes like Jordan Lake has nowhere to go, so it spreads out across land.
“The water has been high in previous years, but it’s never been this high,” Morley said.
Officials have held “a number of meetings” to try to identify solutions, Pegler said. So far, none of the talks between the Adams County Land and Water Conservation Department and the county drainage board have resulted in any solid plans.
The Adams County Drainage Board plans to meet Aug. 19 with Jordan Lake as an item to be discussed. Members of the Jordan Lake Rehabilitation and Protection District also will gather for a quarterly meeting at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 17 with plans to discuss the issue.
Pegler said Parker and Goose lakes, also kettle lakes, are flooding this year.
Morley said the department has received complaints from about a dozen residents about the flooding and has explained the water levels need time to naturally recede.
“There’s really no easy solution,” Morley said.
Groundwater moves slowly, and when more water is added through heavy rainfall, it builds up rather than dissipating, he added. Water levels rise, pushing the lake to unprecedented levels.
Some residents have advocated for a culvert to run under the road on land it already is flooding naturally, Pegler said. However, some farmers worry how that might affect their fields.
“Everybody assumes that there’s an easy fix,” Morley said. “There are millions of gallons of excess water that’s gotta drain somewhere if you just punch a hole in the ground.”
Pegler also said Neenah Creek, where the water eventually would flow from the lake if given an outlet, has a trout spawning area. A change in temperature could affect the fish that live there naturally and disrupt reproduction.
“There’s a whole bunch of ramifications we have to consider,” Pegler said.