USACE commander updates judges on projects at dams in Muskingum River Watershed
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) has invested nearly $6.5 million over the past few years as part of its local cost-share agreements with the federal government for work to maintain the safety of the flood-reduction dams in the Muskingum River Watershed.
Information about the current status of the projects was presented by Col. Robert Peterson, commander of the Huntington (WV) District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), to member judges of the Conservancy Court of the MWCD during the Court’s recent annual session. The USACE operates the 16 dams in the system of reservoirs and dams, and the MWCD manages much of the reservoirs behind the dams as part of a now nearly 80-year-old partnership to provide the benefits of flood reduction and conservation in the watershed.
“I can’t think of a better relationship with a partnering agency or key stakeholder than what we have with this important agency (MWCD) in this watershed,” Peterson said. “We have lots of aging infrastructure here that needs attention.”
Work began in 2011 on construction at Dover Dam and additional planning and preparation is under way on the four other priority dam projects in the region, according to Peterson. The other priority projects are at Beach City, Bolivar and Mohawk dams, along with the continuing review of the condition and strategy in response to concerns for Zoar Levee.
The USACE estimates the five priority projects will cost up to $675 million and that construction will begin on the four remaining projects over the next several years, with Bolivar Dam next on the list in 2013-14. The MWCD has committed to be the federally mandated local cost-share sponsor for all of the projects with an estimated total investment of up to $143.3 million.
During testimony before the judges of the Conservancy Court, Peterson said that 36 multi-strand anchors are being installed at Dover Dam to improve the dam’s stability, and to date 16 have been completely installed and nine more are under way. Located on the Tuscarawas River north of Dover off Rt. 800 in Tuscarawas County, the dam was identified by the USACE as a top priority for safety work. A contract for the second phase of work at the dam was awarded in the fall of 2011 and the total estimated cost of the project is $60 million, with the MWCD’s local cost share estimated at $2.1 million.
The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio. Since their construction, the 16 reservoirs and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving $10.4 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to
the federal government, as well as providing popular recreational opportunities that bolster the region’s economy.
The USACE estimates that contracts are expected to be awarded in 2017 for safety work at Mohawk Dam in Coshocton County, in 2019 for both Beach City Dam in Stark and Tuscarawas counties and in 2018 for Zoar Levee in Tuscarawas County. To date, the MWCD has provided nearly $6.5 million toward the projects for its local cost-share contribution.
Peterson also said that other opportunities exist for the USACE and MWCD to partner on programs and projects to improve the performance of the system of reservoirs and dams.
In another matter, Richard J. Pryce of North Canton in Stark County will serve a second term on the MWCD Board of Directors after being appointed to a new five-year term by the member judges of the Conservancy Court. Pryce is the retired chief executive officer of Aultman Health Foundation and Aultman Hospital in Stark County and serves on a number of public boards and organizations, as well as being a former member of the MWCD’s Development Advisory Committee.
Members of the Board of Directors are appointed by the Court to oversee the operations and business affairs of the MWCD, which also manages 54,000 acres of land and water space dedicated to public use, including 10 lakes, five lake parks and eight campgrounds in an 18-county area.
Other members of the MWCD Board of Directors are William P. Boyle Jr. of the Charles Mill Lake area in Richland County (current president of the Board), David Parham of the Atwood Lake region in Carroll County (current Board vice president), Steve Kokovich of New Concord in Muskingum County and Harry C. Horstman of Scio in Harrison County. Board members, who can serve a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms, routinely meet once a month in open, public session.
The Conservancy Court, which consists of one common pleas court judge from each of the 18 counties in the MWCD region, has jurisdiction over the MWCD as a court of common pleas. During the session, member judges also approved the 2011 Annual Report of Operations of the MWCD, which contains information about the conservancy district’s financial records and operations and is submitted each year according to Ohio law. The Annual Report also is available on the MWCD’s website at www.mwcd.org.
For more information about the MWCD, visit www.mwcd.org and follow the MWCD on Facebook and Twitter.
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