City officials and members of the Marquette Board of Light and Power enjoyed a day at the beach today.They were on hand to cut the ribbon and officially reopen the Tourist Park beach.
The beach had been closed for ten years after a spillway failure at Silver Lake Basin released nine billion gallons of water. The flooding overpowered two dams, one of which was the Tourist Park Dam. After it was destroyed, the reservoir at the beach drained and the dam was washed away into Lake Superior.
“They had to make some decisions as to whether or not they could rebuild. Whether or not it was economically feasible. It had to make sense from a power production point of view. The Board of Light and Power went through those studies. The city was involved in that discussion as well. Ultimately, they decided they would go ahead and rebuild the dam. So now we have the impoundment back. We have the lake back. And it had a big impact when we lost the lake because you bring a bunch of kids to stay here for a few days and you’ve got to have some activities. Swimming was a big one and we lost that for about ten years,” explained Don Ryan, a Commissioner for the city of Marquette.
Reconstruction on the dam finished last year, but the reservoir didn’t reach sustainable levels until recently.
“It turned out real good. We got a hydroelectric dam completed under budget that’s producing about three quarters of a megawatt of power. That’s enough power on an average day for 500 to 700 homes, depending on the run-of-river. We’ve got two other hydroelectric wheels up the river producing green energy. It’s going to be in our generating portfolio for many, many, many years to come. It just makes for a great win-win situation for the city of Marquette, the Board of Light and Power, and all of the residents,” remarked Paul Kitti, Executive Director of the Marquette Board of Light and Power.
The beach is now open to the public with a lifeguard on site.