Buckeye Lake and area residents and businesses received a recommendation from Army Corp of Engineers* Wednesday afternoon that has the potential to leave the lake a very different sight within the year.
The Army Corp carried out an inspection and the results showed the likelihood of a catastrophic failure. A 177 year old dam on the verge of giving way. If the dam breaks, an 8 foot wall of water will fill the flood plain with mud and debris, leaving a very devastating and potentially deadly situation for everyone. The report stated immediate replacement of the dam is needed to prevent a costly disaster. The Army Corp also recommends draining the lake permanently to remove the current risk. One area resident shared his thoughts on the possibilities.
“I’d hate to see it happen but I mean, you know, something has to be done because you have to protect the community so they’re going to have to do something and hopefully the sooner the better.”
Though the threat would be no more, area business surrounding the lake and in Licking, Fairfield and Perry County would suffer significantly. President Tim Ryan of the Buckeye Lake Region Chamber of Commerce told us more.
“You have businesses like the three or four marinas that rent docks. They will not be able to do that, they wont get income off those dock rentals. You have the Yacht Club that rents docks to their members. They wont be able to do that and they wont get income off of that so those businesses are going to be severely harmed from the fact that they wont be able to do their normal day to day business.”
We spoke to one local business employee who wished to remain off camera. She told us the tackle shop she was employed by was now at risk of closing, leaving her job hanging in the balance. Assistant Manager Diane Cleland of Crenos Pizza Company on Buckeye Lake told us how the possibility of draining lake would effect their restaurant.
“I think it would effect it alot because during the summer, I mean, there’s a lot of traffic. We even deliver to the docks over there. People call when they’re out on their boats and call in an order and we’ll meet them at the dock and deliver the food to them. So if there’s no boats, we’re going to lose a lot of business.”
Not only would the are take a loss economically, but also emotionally. The lake is a part of the town, and many share the same love of the peaceful waters. Cleland said,
“I enjoy having the lake and you know you go to the swim areas and swim and go feed the ducks. I’ll go feed the ducks with my grandkids and everything. So it will be missed if they have to do it.”
ODNR Officials are going to continue to review the report findings and bring you a decision in the near future, but in the meantime you can always stick with WHIZ and we’ll bring you the latest as we have it.
*Updated to reflect that the Army Corp of Engineers made the recommendation on 3/11/15 to drain Buckeye Lake, not the Ohio Department of Natural Resources