MWCD moves on work slated at Dover Dam, Piedmont Lake

April 27, 2009

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) is moving forward on two projects that will stabilize a dam and protect a reservoir from pollution.

MWCD officials have signed a letter of intent to work with the federal government on a $103-million rehabilitation project for Dover Dam and to participate with the state government for a redesigned reclamation pond located in the headwaters above Piedmont Lake that will reduce the potential for heavy metals to eventually flow into the lake.

Members of the MWCD Board of Directors approved both projects during a recent meeting held at the Stark County Park District Exploration Gateway offices at Canton. The projects are part of the implementation of the MWCD's amendment to its Official Plan to maintain and rehabilitate the system of reservoirs and dams that provide flood reduction and water conservation benefits in the Muskingum River Watershed.

The MWCD previously announced that it would serve as the non-federal local cost-share sponsor with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the work at Dover Dam. By signing the letter of intent, the MWCD is confirming its commitment for the project to stabilize the dam located along the Tuscarawas River in northern Tuscarawas County.

"It was an historic time when the MWCD partnered with the federal government in the 1930s to create the 14 dams and reservoirs in the Muskingum River Watershed that have protected people and property for more than 70 years," said John M. Hoopingarner, MWCD executive director/secretary. "History repeats itself as we renew that partnership with our participation in the Dover Dam project."

Work at the dam is scheduled to get under way during the fall of 2010, according to the USACE. As the required non-federal local cost-share sponsor for the project, the MWCD will contribute an estimated $3.57 million for the work - or 3.45 percent of the total cost - over the length of the project.

The Huntington (W.Va.) District of the USACE, which owns and operates the dams in the Muskingum River Watershed, has reported over the past few years that Dover Dam is founded on rock that has fractures and weakened planes and is in need of several upgrades to assure reliable performance. USACE officials also have said the dam - the only concrete dam in the watershed - presently cannot be operated to its design capacities because of stabilization concerns.

The MWCD also will enter into a cooperative agreement with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Mineral Resource Management Acid Mine Drainage Unit for updates to a reclamation facility to reduce the sediment load entering the Lick Run Bay portion of Piedmont Lake. A significant component of the sediment to be collected is aluminum sulfate, a leachate byproduct of mining activities that occurred in the past in the region.

As a partner in the project, the MWCD will fund nearly $35,000 for the project, which is estimated to cost nearly $75,000.

ODNR officials said that the Piedmont Lake region has been a source of concern for many years due to the acid mine drainage present and the negative effects it can have on the biota in and around the lake.

"This project is a perfect partnership to continue the planned work to improve the water quality in this area, including the lake," said Scot Hindall, P.E., acid mine drainage engineering staff manager for the Division of Mineral Resource Management Acid Mine Drainage Unit. "The work will provide retention of aluminum and other sulfates that could otherwise enter the lake."

Hindall added that the state actively seeks cooperative funding partners with shared interests to stretch its available funds for acid mine drainage remediation projects.

"We work to leverage our dollars which allows us to do several more projects in a year's time than we normally could do if we were in the position of funding the entire amount," Hindall said. "We've been doing partnerships for many years with many agencies and it's a perfect fit to be working with the MWCD on this project at Piedmont."

Work is expected to get under way soon and be completed by this fall.

The MWCD will pay for its share of the costs for the Dover and Piedmont projects - along with other identified maintenance projects at the reservoirs and in the watershed - through an assessment of property owners in the watershed pursuant to Ohio law, for which collection began this year

"We have reported to the residents in the watershed through the past several years that we are committed to the safe operation of the system of dams and reservoirs, and that the MWCD will be an active partner for this important work," Hoopingarner said. "We now have the ability and responsibility to implement meaningful projects designed to maintain this system to serve and protect future generations.

"These projects will have a very significant economic benefit in the watershed region."

The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state of Ohio, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed, leading to the construction of 14 reservoirs and dams several years later. The MWCD is a partner with the USACE in the operation of the system of dams and reservoirs in the watershed, as the USACE operates the dams and the MWCD manages most of the reservoir areas behind the dams.

Since their construction, the dams and reservoirs have prevented more than $7 billion worth of property damage from flooding, according to the USACE.

Besides Dover Dam, the USACE is preparing for maintenance and rehabilitation projects at Beach City, Bolivar and Mohawk dams, along with Zoar levee, with total costs estimated at up to $621 million, including a local share to be paid by the MWCD of up to $123.1 million.

The 18 counties wholly or partially contained in the MWCD jurisdiction are Ashland, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Guernsey, Holmes, Harrison, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Richland, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas, Wayne and Washington. More information about the MWCD is available at Information about individual assessments can be discussed with MWCD staff members by calling toll-free (866) 755-6923.

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


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