In a March 13 article in the Columbus Dispatch, ODNR spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle said “Yes, there have been multiple reports, and, yes, we’ve known about problems with the dam for years. But every time there was a report, there was an equal amount of pushback, if not more. And with every report there was someone pointing out holes in its credibility.”
ODNR spent last week telling people how the Buckeye Lake residents are in denial. Other politicians disparage the residents by claiming they think they are dam engineers. Both thoughts demonstrate they do not understand the thinking and motivations of the people that live and work in this area.
The pushback comes from our practical experience and fear that ODNR will ram another hair-brained idea down our throats, causing more harm than good. As evidence, see the additional flooding caused by the Sellers Point spillway. See the harm caused by the 1997 spillway at Grand Lake St. Marys. See the mess they made with changes to the Lieb’s Island ramps and park. See the effort to raise the dam above its current level. The examples go on and on. It’s not the resident’s pushback that is the problem.
If ODNR would work together with the people out here, they wouldn’t get so much resistance. The Buckeye Lake Area Civic Association has been trying to work with them for over 10 years. It seems the current administration has tired of the additional effort required to work with people that understand the Buckeye Lake environment. Why do you think they brought in the USACE? Because they didn’t understand the problems? The ODNR spokeswoman just admitted they knew about the problems. It seems ODNR needed to leverage the Army Corps’ “credibility” to roll over the residents.
The Army Corps’ conclusion of “high probability of failure” is based purely on observation and speculation. No sci ence. No engineering. Look at the final report and you will find a scant nine pages of analysis based on previous studies. One single page talks about piezometer readings in a very general way. You don’t need to be an engineer to see the glaring holes in the assessment. Why “high probability of failure”? Why not “medium probability of failure”? How did they quantify this? Ah, they did not. Purely subjective, un-scientific opinion of a few days of walking around. It’s “high probability” because ODNR needed it to be.
Why has ODNR not maintained the dam? The last significant investment in proactive maintenance was done in 1992 and 1993 with the new spillway and an upgrade to the old spillway. Their decision to keep the water at an unusable level will result in an economic disaster for not only the people that live and work here, but also those who depend on those jobs and home sales.
Why have we reached this point of crisis? Is it perhaps because ODNR needs a crisis to get the money and roll over resistance to bad solutions? The people of Buckeye Lake should not have to pay for ODNR’s mismanagement.