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Acton Lake Dam

Location and Description

Acton Lake Dam is located in Hueston Woods State Park in Butler County, just north of the city of Oxford. The dam was originally constructed in 1956 to provide a recreational lake for the park.

The facility includes an earth fill embankment, side channel concrete spillway, concrete lined outlet channel, concrete lake drain structure and drainage network along the toe of the dam. The earth fill portion of the dam is approximately 60 feet high and 1,100 feet long. The side channel spillway is a 330-foot long ogee spillway located on the east dam abutment. The concrete lake drain structure is located in the lake approximately 80 feet from the upstream shoreline and near the side channel spillway. The lake drain consists of a concrete tower extending from the lake bottom above normal pool and includes two 6-foot by 6-foot sluice gates.

Acton Lake Dam impounds approximately 560 surface acres of water at normal pool and has a contributing drainage area of 99 square miles. The lake is considered a premier inland fishery and recreational boating area. As a Class I high-hazard potential structure, a sudden failure of Acton Lake Dam likely would result in the structural collapse of at least one residence or one commercial or industrial business and probable loss of human life. (Hazard ratings refer to the consequences of dam failure, not the dam's condition.)

Click here for more about the Dam Risk Reduction Program.

dam problem areas

dam problem areas

dam problem areas

Acton Lake: Vital Statistics (previous structure)

Prior to completion of dam risk reduction construction the dam included these characteristics.

  • Maximum Embankment Height: 60 feet
  • Length of Dam: 1,100 feet
  • Crest Width: 10 feet
  • Reservoir Surface Area At Top Of Dam: 976 acres
  • Storage Capacity at Principal Spillway Elevation: 2.5 billion gallons
  • Principal Spillway Crest Elevation: 863 feet
  • Reservoir Surface Area at Principal Spillway: 560 acres
  • Dam Classification: Class I
  • Lake Constructed: 1956
  • Dam and Spillway Improvements Completed: 2017
  • Lake Inflow: Little Four Mile Creek; East Four Mile Creek
  • Total Drainage Area To Lake: 99 square miles
  • Lake Outflow: Four Mile Creek
  • Counties: The site is located in Butler County at Hueston Woods State Park
  • Communities: Oxford, College Corner

Safety Issues

Acton Lake Dam has displayed visual signs of underseepage since construction in 1956. Additionally, a structural analysis of the existing concrete spillway weir, floor, adjacent walls and the concrete lake drain tower, was performed to evaluate compliance with current design codes. The result of the structural analysis indicated that most of the structures at the site are deficient. Also, the dam did not meet state dam safety standards.

Risk Reduction

Several options were considered for rehabilitation of the dam. The lake's quality as a fishery and vast recreational uses led to constraints associated with lake levels during construction. The selected risk reduction alternative allowed construction to be performed with minimal impacts to lake levels. This alternative involved replacement of the lake drain tower and several concrete walls, rehabilitation of the spillway weir and outlet channel, and construction of a new toe drainage network and berm.

Long Term Plan

Routine inspections and maintenance of the dam will continue. An emergency action plan is being revised and will be shared with local emergency management officials once it is completed.


Park information may be found on the Hueston Woods State Park web page.


News Releases

  • None at this time.

All Engineering Division News Releases

Media Coverage

July, 2015 ± click to expand

To request more information you may write to:

Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Dam Risk Reduction Project
2045 Morse Road, Building E-3
Columbus, Ohio 43229

or send an email communication to