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Project Updates

Buckeye Lake: Significant Rain Events and ODNR Interim-Pool Water Control Plan

Posted on 7/18/2017 by Engineering in Buckeye Lake Dam

The Buckeye Lake region recently experienced localized natural flooding due to significant rainfall in the area. Our thoughts are with those who experienced damaged or lost property, this is a very difficult time. We would also like to extend our thanks and gratitude to the state, county and local officials who worked tirelessly during the emergency to protect the public, there were no reports of loss of life or serious injury in the community.

To ensure safety of the dam, downstream residents, and the general public the Ohio Department of Natural Resources established an interim-pool water control plan for Buckeye Lake. The first step of the plan is the establishment of the interim summer pool level, which set the maximum allowable pool level to one foot below normal summer pool. The interim summer pool level was deliberately selected to increase the capacity of the lake to safely impound storm water during a high-water event. The lower pool level prevented the lake from overfilling and possibly overtopping the dam, which would have led to flooding of homes on the embankment crest as well as along the shoreline - not to mention jeopardizing the stability of the dam and the construction work already in-progress for Phase 2.

When water levels reach certain predefined elevations or if a certain amount of rainfall is expected over a 24-hour period, ODNR will activate the next appropriate step of the water control plan (see graphic below) and open the lake drains to maintain a safe pool level. On Monday July 10th ODNR activated the lake drains at Sellers Point Spillway in response to the rain event. On Tuesday July 11th ODNR also opened the lake drains at the AMIL Gate Spillway. In this case, as in other high-water events, the gate to Crane Lake must also be closed to prevent water flowing over low-lying areas in the smaller lake.

During the event, the dam was under continuous observation and we could confirm that it was operating safely. Observations confirmed that the soil mix cutoff wall prevented water from seeping through the dam and it performed as intended.

The lake drains located at the Sellers Point Spillway and AMIL Gate Spillway are both used to regulate lake level. The lake drains at Sellers Point Spillway will be opened if the lake level reaches 890.75 feet MSL (or .25 feet above interim summer pool) and is rising or 2 inches or more of rainfall is expected in a 24-hour period. Lake drains at both Sellers Point and the AMIL Gate Spillway will be opened if the lake level reaches 891.00 feet MSL (or .5 feet above interim summer pool) and is rising or 6 inches or rainfall is expected over a 24-hour period.

Lake drain operation in accordance with the water control plan is at the discretion of the Dam Tender. Opening of the lake drains will occur without public notice and ODNR will continue the practice of aggressive and proactive water control during the construction period.

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