(Editor’s Note: This is an open letter to Heidi Hetzel-Evans, Communications Manager for Ohio State Parks, Watercraft & Preserves)
As I am certain that you are aware, Buckeye Lake has been kept at
lowered levels due to safety concerns. Earlier this summer, construction
was completed on the 2nd , and final (structurally) portion of the dam.
At that point, there was no longer any danger of the dam collapsing.
There are 2- 2′ thick concrete walls that go down 50′; the original dam
is also still there. There remains 43′ of rip rap in front of the outer
wall; ODNR initially said this would be removed, but instead is leaving
it in place; as such, it would likely take a nuclear bomb to breach
Nonetheless, ODNR steadfastly refuses to let the lake fill, opening more
channels, businesses and areas of the lake for public use because of the
inane, self-serving line “under construction”- a perfect fit for this
There is nothing more structurally to be completed, only cosmetic and
surface work – the “cap” on the dam. For the same “reason” (“under construction”),
ODNR is again going to drop the lake on October 2, instead of November 15, rendering it unusable to
nearly everyone. Also, they are again planning on the extreme “winter
depth” criteria of recent years.
The lake was first lowered in the winter to allow home and business
owners the ability to repair their sea walls and docks. This extreme
measure has had the opposite effect: not enough water for the barges to
get in and make repairs.
As a final point, many of the postings from ODNR refer to managing water
to , essentially, flood control. As my attached e-mail indicates, this
was never a stated purpose for this dam, and ODNR vociferously denied
ever engaging in flood control for decades.
What the lake front home and business owners are left with is the
impression that the people who illegally built below the spillway in
the flood plain are “wagging the dog” of the 8,000 permanent residences
and our many water-dependent businesses. ODNR continues to lie/mislead
when it speaks of dam “overtopping” which has never occurred in it’s
nearly 200 year history.
At one point, Ohio talked of creating a flood control zone amongst the
low lying farm lands North of the lake. Keeping the lake artificially
low will result in economic detriment to the homeowners and businesses,
increase toxic algae concerns, and result in litigation.
I am the President of the Honey Creek Homeowner’s Association, and
currently, nearly half of our members cannot access the lake because of
lack of water.
We understood the need when there was any potential danger, but now that
that aspect has been eliminated, keeping the water low ‘because that’s
how we have done it’ is wasteful, arrogant madness.
Your initiative states that administrative agencies are supposed to
confer with business and property owners before rules are established –
that has never taken place here, and certainly not in terms of these
most recent “edicts”. We respectfully request your assistance in this
matter- please help restore common sense to the operation of the lake.