MWCD to celebrate 75th anniversary with special camping rate

May 29, 2008

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) will mark 75 years of service (1933-2008) to the residents of the Muskingum River Watershed this summer.

And campers visiting the five MWCD lake parks - at Atwood, Charles Mill, Pleasant Hill, Seneca and Tappan lakes - can take advantage of a special camping rate to celebrate the anniversary during two upcoming weekends. The MWCD will offer all open campsites for $15 per night on June 13 and 14, and August 8 and 9, at the five lake parks. No coupons are necessary and reservations can be made by contacting the individual parks or by visiting for more details.

The MWCD, a political subdivision of the State of Ohio, officially was organized in 1933 with two primary objectives: to reduce the effects of flooding in the watershed and to conserve water for public uses. Today, the system of reservoirs and dams constructed under the Official Plan of the MWCD has saved more than $7 billion worth of potential damage from flooding and the reservoirs are utilized in many ways to public benefit.

"The MWCD was developed to address two serious needs in the Muskingum River Watershed - and that was to reduce the effects of flooding and water conservation," said John M. Hoopingarner, only the third executive director/secretary in the MWCD's history. "But as effective as the dams and reservoirs have been in protecting people and property, the MWCD has become so much more, just as our founder Bryce Browning envisioned. The lakes attract 5.5 million people a year, Tappan Lake serves as the source of drinking water for the nearby Village of Cadiz and the MWCD works with other agencies and professionals to identify ways to improve the lives of residents in the region."

By 1938, the construction of 13 earthen dams and one concrete dam (Dover Dam) was completed, with two additional dams built later. In 1939, the federal government through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) took over ownership and operations of the dams, leaving the MWCD to manage much of the reservoir areas behind the dams. The MWCD and USACE have formed a strong partnership that continues today in operation of the system of dams and reservoirs.

The Muskingum River Watershed is the largest wholly contained watershed in the state, covering all or portions of 27 counties, or about 20 percent of the state (an area roughly the size of the state of New Jersey). All rainwater flowing the region eventually empties into the Muskingum River and flows to Marietta in Washington County, where the Muskingum River meets the Ohio River.

The 10 permanent reservoirs in the system are Atwood, Beach City, Charles Mill, Clendening, Leesville, Piedmont, Pleasant Hill, Seneca, Tappan and Wills Creek, while dams at Bolivar, Dover, Mohawk and Mohicanville impound water only during times of high water and are commonly referred to as "dry dams." The reservoirs hold floodwaters temporarily for safe release downstream during flooding conditions, similar to what occurred earlier this year when a combination of rain and melting snow led to several swollen reservoirs.

Over the years, the success of the MWCD has been the subject of study throughout the United States and in some foreign countries. The MWCD is one of 20 active conservancy districts in the state of Ohio.

The MWCD manages more than 54,000 acres of property, most of which is open for free public access.

"The MWCD mission is very clear - reduce flooding in our watershed," Hoopingarner said. "But the MWCD has evolved into so much more. Many people are aware of the recreational opportunities available on the MWCD lands and lakes, and conservation of natural resources also is a primary function of the MWCD."

For more details, visit or on the Internet.

Darrin Lautenschleger
Public Information Administrator
Toll-free: (877) 363-8500


« Back to News