After years of debate, litigation and attempts to find new uses for it, Xcel Energy and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have agreed to remove the Orienta dam from the Iron river this summer and replace it with a fish barrier. DNR hopes to restore the natural river system by removing the hydro dam.
Critics say removing the dam will result in a less than natural river by allowing exotic species up a river that has been dammed for nearly 100 years. But the DNR and US Fish and Wildlife Service are confident it will prevent upstream migration.
Orienta dam, completed in 1947, had produced up to 800kW of electricity until it was damaged in 1985 by a storm. Xcel Energy, previously known as Northern States Power, decided that the dam was not worth repairing.