MWCD to begin dredging later this year at Tappan Lake

March 12, 2014

The flood-storage benefits produced by the lakes of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) will be protected when a dredging program to remove large amounts of sediment from the lake bottoms begins later this year at Tappan Lake in Harrison County.

“We’re at the starting point now of a dredging program in our lakes that will be active for many years to maintain the lakes for proper flood-storage capacity to protect people and property,” said Boris Slogar, MWCD chief engineer. “Dredging of the MWCD lakes is fundamental to the MWCD mission of flood reduction and follows the Amendment of the Official Plan of the MWCD that was adopted in 2005 and very clearly calls for dredging as a key component to the maintenance of the lakes. This multi-year, multi-million dollar effort will protect and extend the useful life of the reservoirs for many years to come.”

The MWCD’s 10 permanent lakes were constructed between 1936 and 1939 as part of a coordinated system of reservoirs and dams designed to reduce the effects of flooding in the Muskingum River Watershed and to conserve water for beneficial public uses. An estimated $10.7 billion worth of potential property damage has been spared from flooding due to the operation of the reservoirs and dams.

“The MWCD has not dredged anything on a scale like this for its entire 80-year history,” said Mark Buchenic of the engineering firm URS, which has been working with the MWCD over the past year to develop a dredging plan for the conservancy district. “Overall, the flood-storage capacity of the lakes has been reduced by about 25 percent over the years, and that could reach to nearly 40 percent if nothing is done in the next 10 years.”

The MWCD and URS reviewed eight conservancy district lakes to identify a priority order for dredging based on a wide range of factors, and have developed the following list in order of priority:

  • Tappan Lake
  • Seneca Lake in Guernsey and Noble counties
  • Pleasant Hill Lake in Ashland and Richland counties
  • Charles Mill Lake in Ashland and Richland counties
  • Atwood Lake in Carroll and Tuscarawas counties
  • Piedmont Lake in Belmont, Guernsey and Harrison counties
  • Leesville Lake in Carroll County
  • Clendening Lake in Harrison County

A schedule of projected starting dates for dredging at the other lakes has not been completed yet, but multiple projects should be under way simultaneously over the next several years, Slogar said. Schedule and activity announcements will be made as they are developed, he added.

URS is assisting MWCD staff members with obtaining proper permits to conduct the dredging, determinations about contracting for the work or handling it with conservancy district staff and incorporating strategies to reuse the sediment material that is removed from the lakes.

The MWCD also is working on a long-term communications strategy to ensure that the general public and lake visitors and users are informed about plans, schedules and related details about dredging at the individual lakes. Public meetings to describe plans and receive feedback will be scheduled, too.

Slogar said that it is estimated that about 200,000 cubic yards of material will be removed per year when the work begins, and that it costs an estimated $10 per cubic yard for removal. Funds for the dredging come from the assessment collected from property owners in the MWCD region who receive benefits from the operation of the system of reservoirs and dams.

In general, Slogar said most of the work for sediment removal will occur in the upstream and shoreline areas of the lakes, where most of the material is deposited.

“The lifespan of any manmade lake such as the MWCD lakes is based on the rate of sedimentation as part of the operation of the flood-reduction system,” Slogar said. “We have been fortunate that the MWCD lakes have performed as well as they have over the past 80 years and we want to ensure that they will provide the proper storage capacity for many years to come. We look forward to providing updates about this work to the general public and property owners in the watershed in the years to come.”

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 an estimated $10.7 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. A significant portion of the reservoirs are managed by the MWCD and the dams are managed for flood-risk management by the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

For more information about the MWCD, visit www.mwcd.org and follow the MWCD on Facebook and Twitter.

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