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Peru Residents Still Fighting DNR’s Dam Assessment

Peru Dam

Photo: Bill Shaw

Larry West says the six Hidden Hills dams don't meet the requirements needed to fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources.

Neighbors in a Peru subdivision are still fighting the Department of Natural Resource’s assessment that six dams in their neighborhood fall under state jurisdiction.

The DNR told residents in September that the dams need thousands of dollars worth of repairs to bring them up to code, and owners with dams on their properties had to pay for the upgrades.

Hidden Hills resident and Miami County Commissioner Larry West formed a steering committee of residents that hired legal counsel to dispute the DNR’s claim.  West owns a portion of one of the dams and says that based on the statute in question, the dams don’t fall under the DNR’s jurisdiction and therefore aren’t subject to agency regulations.

“We hired an attorney to interpret the statute, and look at the data on the lakes and dams, and his interpretation is the same as mine as far as the statutes,” West said.

The criteria for a dam to be exempt from DNR jurisdiction are if the dam has a drainage area of not more than one square mile; does not exceed more than twenty feet in height; does not impound a volume of more than 100 acre feet of water; and is built for the sole purpose of erosion control, watering livestock, recreation or providing a haven or refuge for future wildlife.

DNR Water Division Assistant Director Kenneth Smith says he has reached out to the Hidden Hills residents, but has no comment because he has yet to hear back from them.  West provided WFIU with an email he sent to Smith with his findings dated June 29.

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