Senator Hottinger’s office requested that we address your concerns regarding the Buckeye Lake Dam Rehabilitation Project.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) priority is the structural integrity of the dam and the safety of the surrounding community. For this reason, ODNR will continue the practice of aggressive and proactive water control management during the project’s construction period.
To ensure the safety of the dam, downstream residents, and the public, ODNR established an interim-pool water control plan for Buckeye Lake during the construction process. Under this plan, ODNR begins drawing down the lake to winter pool starting October 1st. As you noted in your email, ODNR will follow this schedule again this year. Drawdown to reach winter pool (two feet below interim summer pool) is expected to take approximately four weeks, or by the end of October, depending on weather, rainfall and other conditions. As was done last year, the Amil Gate stoplogs being removed to accomplish this drawdown will be put back in place on March 1st, 2018. This will allow the lake to refill to the interim summer pool, which is one foot below normal summer pool.
This schedule was adopted as an operational interim risk reduction measure to safeguard the public while construction is underway. The stability berm and seepage cutoff wall, installed as structural interim risk reduction measures in Phase I, addressed seepage and instability concerns but not overtopping. The dam is in a safer state than it was prior to completing Phase I but will remain vulnerable to certain hazards until all dam improvements are complete in 2018. Those hazards include severe rain events that could overfill the reservoir and overtop the dam. Also, upcoming work will include work around the spillways, and the lower pool level will reduce risk while drains and spillways are temporarily out of service.
Over the last 24 years the lake elevation reached a height that went over Sellers Point Spillway (an elevation that would inundate parts of the work area and approach the top of the Embankment Stability Berm) more than 12 times during the construction winter-pool period, including October and November. To decrease this risk, ODNR will continue the water control plan described above until the project is completed.
The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2018, in time to resume normal dam operations for the 2019 recreation season.
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