BUCKEYE LAKE – This year’s recreation season and the fate of struggling lake business now depends on Mother Nature.
ODNR Director James Zehringer announced last Thursday morning at Lieb’s Island that, “The gates have been closed at 7 a.m.”
Actually there is only one spillway gate and it remains open. However, outflow at the AMIL spillway in Buckeye Lake Village has been stopped by placing metal “stop logs” in the framework of the pedestrian bridge over the spillway. The “logs” fit in metal slots and will stop lake water from reaching the still open spillway gate. The gate will no longer be used to control the flow of water.
Zehringer said the completion of Phase 1 of the dam replacement project means ODNR will allow the water level to raise two feet above winter pool. ODNR set a new “winter pool” of 888.75 last year that was considerably lower than the typical winter pool. Zehringer did not mention a specific level in his comments last Thursday.
However, a two-foot increase over “winter pool” should set an 890.75 level which is still a foot lower than the typical summer pool. Gannett Fleming Vice President Robert Kline told The Beacon after the press conference that the new limit is 890.5 due to a “datum correction” with USGS gauge on Buckeye Lake. That gauge, Kline said, had been off about 0.2 feet. He referred to the new level as the “interim summer pool.”
That gauge, which can be tracked on-line at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/oh/nwis/uv?site_no=395417082314200, was at 888.82 last Thursday morning. One week later at about 3 a.m. Thursday morning, it was at 888.83, a very negligible increase. The culprit is dry weather combined with high temperatures that have increased evaporation. If these conditions continue, the lake level will drop even with the drains and spillways closed.
History is not on our side. It typically takes six to eight weeks of wet spring weather to reach summer pool. Evaporation losses in the spring are minimal.