FOX47 NEWS - Debating the Wisconsin River Clean-up

Jeff Angileri
Jul 8, 2008, 9:47 PM

Columbia County is partnering with Sauk County, the Department of Natural Resources, and the public to generate ideas for removing the tons of debris littering the Wisconsin River.

When the waters of Lake Delton gushed through a breach in the lake, they ripped houses from foundations, swept away boats and piers, and left a 23-mile debris field along the Wisconsin River.

Patrick Beghin, Columbia Co. Emergency Management Director, says that included, Personal belongings, the walls, the roofs, shingles, 2x4s--everything that's in the house...all washed downstream.

The clean-up will be difficult. The area is not easily accessible, and some spots are too shallow for barges to float. Officials also want to partner with people living along the river, so clean-up crews can access the area by dry land.

It may be using very small boats for the most part, and hand labor to get most of the debris out of that river, says Beghin.

For safety and environmental concerns, officials want to contract the job to a company specially equipped to work in marine environments. And they want to do it quickly.

There's a lot of hazards there and we'd like to get it cleaned up before, one it moves again on us with a high water event, or we have curious people go out there and start crawling around on this, says Beghin.

Emergency officials don't know how much the clean-up will cost. They're hopeful that the majority of the bills will be paid by FEMA.

The meeting will take place at portage high school auditorium July 9th at 5pm.

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