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Some flooding relief possible next year

HEBRON – At the very least, we need to return local flooding to its levels before the Seller’s Point spillway was built, Union Township Trustee chair John Slater believes.

Floodwaters from heavy rains June 26 and 27 closed down both directions of I-70 June 27. Traffic detoured from I-70 ,plus closures of state, county and township roads made travel difficult June 27. That flooding, Slater said during Monday night’s regularly scheduled trustees’ meeting, underscores the need for ODNR to fix the Seller’s Point spillway problem.

Slater said that the Seller’s Point spillway, while well intentioned, has increased flooding north of the lake. Prior to its construction, Buckeye Lake could hold some flood water. The spillway was constructed in the 1990’s to make sure that a major storm would not overtop Buckeye Lake’s 4.5 mile long earthen dam. An overtopping could cause the dam to fail.

While the new spillway eliminated the overtopping risk and ended flooding along the South Bank, the additional water flow overwhelmed the narrow South Fork of the Licking River channel, increasing flooding along Ohio 360 and in the Village of Buckeye Lake.

“Before Seller’s Point, the flooding was more predictable,” said Slater. “That is a tremendous amount of water.” He added that the lake no longer stores extra floodwater except during the winter, when the water level is lowered to protect docks from ice movement.

Trustee Jack Justice said flooding in the Buckeye Lake KOA campground – which was completely under water except for five campsites June 27 – is much worse since the spillway was built.

ODNR has promised to return conditions to those existing before the spillway was constructed. That project entails widening about three miles of the South Fork channel from the Seller’s Point outlet channel to just north of I-70.

Dave Mohr, chief of ODNR’s Division of Engineering, said a major portion of the project involves cleaning debris from beneath the I-70 bridge, which contributes to the flooding. He expects the $3.5 million project to go to bid at the end of the year and work to begin next spring. It should take roughly six or seven months to complete. During non-peak traffic hours, one lane of I-70 will be closed while the debris is cleared from beneath the bridge.

ODNR will pay for the project. Local property owners will not be assessed.

ODNR’s Seller’s Point fix will not eliminate flooding. The South Licking Watershed Conservacy District has been working on a more comprehensive solution for years.

Plans are to contsruct a 1,000- acre dry dam just west of Ohio 37 and north of I-70 to temporary hold flood water before releasing it into a newly constructed bypass channel on the north side of I-70. Most floodwater would be diverted from the Buckeye Lake area “bowl.” Currently, the South Fork flows south under I-70 near Ohio 37, looping close to Buckeye Lake, before heading north back under I-70 near Ohio 79.

Slater said he’d need to know exactly how much this project would cost local residents in assessments before he’s willing to support or reject it.

“Flooding reduction is good for everyone, but we need to know what the costs are,” he said. “We’re getting closer to knowing what the cost is going to be.”

In other township news:

• The trustees wrote a formal declaration of congratulations to the Lakewood High School Lady Lancers softball team, Coach Criss Nadolson, and his staff for winning the state Division III championship. “It is through the outstanding dedication, hard work, and unending team spirit this remarkable group of young ladies accomplished much more than win ball games. They built pride in our fine community.” Justice hoped to find a way to deliver a proclamation to each team member individually.

• Granted, it’s not as big as the Seller’s Point spillway, but the trustees objected to a small earthen dam causing flooding over Granview Road near the Granville Township and Union Township border. “It really has no purpose,” said Slater. The trustees are working to find out who owns the property with the dam, so it may be removed. The trustees believe the property is in a trust, although they’re not sure whose trust it is.

• Granview Road will receive crack seal paving and Hayes Road will be paved between Whitehead and Granview roads. The trustees will discuss other paving projects.

• The trustees were asked to participate in Licking County’s celebration of the Hartford Fair’s 150th anniversary, including a parade through the fairgrounds.

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