MC vs. dam
BUCKEYE LAKE - Draining Buckeye Lake, replacing the 4.1-mile Buckeye Lake dam and evacuating the 3,000 people within the "inundation zone" are all options being considered after the release of a report identifying serious problems with the dam.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report, released Wednesday, identified serious problems with the dam and significant risk to the public. It states a catastrophic dam failure would endanger the lives of about 3,000 people who live and work near the dam. The lake is roughly halfway between Columbus and Zanesville, just south of Interstate 70.
James Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said the lake will remain open, but the lower, winter pool water levels will remain in place while decisions are made in the next couple weeks on a long-term course of action.
"This dam could breach at any time," Zehringer said. "It could be a sunny day. Draining the lake would be very catastrophic economically, but we're looking at public safety, No. 1. Draining it is the No. 1 way to ensure no breach."
The structural integrity of the dam has been significantly weakened by the more than 370 homes and other structures that have been sunk into the 4.1-mile earthen dam embankment, according to the report.
Portions of the dam have been dug away to accommodate pools and patios, utilities and drainage systems for the structures that are built into the dam, the report states.
"This has all weakened the dam and undermined its stability," Zehringer said of construction attached to the dam. "That certainly complicates the integrity of the dam.
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