DNR South Central Region - PORTAGE - Surveillance continues this evening by the Department of Natural Resources along sections of the almost 14 mile long Caledonia-Lewiston Levee System here as the Wisconsin River water ... More... DNR Continues Monitoring Portage Levee Along the Wisconsin River News Release Published: September 25, 2010 by the South Central Region Contact(s): Greg Matthews, Regional Public Affairs Manager: 608-444-6551 PORTAGE – Surveillance continues this evening by the Department of Natural Resources along sections of the almost 14 mile long Caledonia-Lewiston Levee System here as the Wisconsin River water level continues to rise. “We’re here to monitor and evaluate the integrity of the levee, make repairs if needed and (if) they can be done safely, and keep local authorities informed of any developments related to the levee,” said DNR Incident Commander John Nielsen. The 120 year-old levee system has developed significant problems in the past and “although we cannot point to any specific, imminent threats (to public safety) right now, we are concerned with water levels expected to rise,” said Meg Galloway, Chief of DNR’s Dam and Floodplain Section. Eighteen miles of the Caledonia-Lewiston Levee System were constructed along the Wisconsin River during the 1890’s by various groups of landowners who lived adjacent to the river. Having been built from locally available materials, mostly sand, without any engineering design or adherence to any standards, these structures could be more aptly referred to as “dikes,” according to Galloway. Nevertheless and despite their shortcomings, the levees have, in fact, withstood frequent floods and since a major failure in 1938, have remained relatively intact. It should be noted that despite substantial maintenance and emergency actions by local government and DNR, “the continued integrity of the levees has survived because there has not been major flooding events that would damage them and warrant major repairs,” said Galloway. Nielsen said he expects the DNR’s Incident Management Team to maintain surveillance for several more days.