St. Paul, MN (KROC-News) - Legislation that includes funding for the replacement of the Silver Lake Dam in Rochester has been sent to Governor Tim Walz for his signature.

The Minnesota House and Senate were able to hammer out the differences in their versions of the 2024 Legacy Budget bill and both chambers approved the compromise measures earlier this week. The legislation appropriates nearly $240 million for outdoor heritage, clean water, parks and trails, along with arts and culture initiatives using the proceeds from a 3/8th of a cent state sales tax.

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The bill sent to the governor includes nearly $2.4 million for the proposed Silver Lake project. The current concept plan calls for removing the nearly 90-year-old existing dam and replacing it with a fixed dam featuring water channels feeding a series of cascading ponds.

City of Rochester
City of Rochester
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Backers of the proposal say it would benefit wildlife and create new recreational opportunities for Rochester area residents. Those could include kayaking using the water channels and ponds that would be included with the proposed fixed dam. The concept drawings developed by the city of Rochester also depict extensions of the recreational trails that currently circle Silver Lake.

The overall price tag for the proposed project is estimated at around $5.5 million. City officials say a portion of that would be covered by funds being set aside by Rochester Public Utilities for future maintenance of the existing dam and money budgeted for maintenance of the city's flood control system.

READ MORE: MN House Approves Funding For New Silver Lake Dam in Rochester

City of Rochester
City of Rochester
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Rochester Mayor Kim Norton says the proposal is still in the early planning stages and would require the approval of state regulators and the City Council before it could proceed. She has also stressed that the many questions local citizens have about the proposal would be answered during that process.

US Army Corps of Engineers photo
US Army Corps of Engineers photo
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The legislation containing the funding for the Silver Lake also appropriates $12 million for the construction of a barrier in the Mississippi River at Lock and Dam 5 near Winona to restrict the northward migration of invasive carp. The bill dictates the deterrent system must be designed within two years and the construction of the barrier must be completed during the summer of 2029.

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TIME TRAVEL! Take a trip back to Downtown Rochester in 2005

A bunch of photos taken in 2005 highlight the dramatic changes that continue to impact the city's downtown area.

Gallery Credit: Andy Brownell

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