Muskingum River Watershed dams focus of media coverage

May 17, 2010

The rehabilitation work planned at Dover, Beach City, Bolivar and Mohawk dams, as well as at Zoar Levee, were featured in information published by The Canton Repository and The (New Philadelphia) Times-Reporter in the newspapers' Sunday, May 16, 2010, editions.

The story follows. See the link to view the informational graphic published by the newspapers.


(For a video presentation, see this link on the MWCD website: /projects/dover-dam)

Dover Dam, others ready for major rehab project
By Benjamin Duer

During the Great Depression, they were built to stimulate the economy. To reduce damage caused by flooding.
Nearly 70 years later, and during another economic downturn, federal officials have returned with construction projects to fix dams — and to create jobs.

Later this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will embark on a rehabilitation program — the largest of its kind in decades — to upgrade four regional dams and a levee in the Muskingum Basin, which covers 8,000 square miles in Stark, Tuscarawas, Carroll and 15 other counties.

The projects include the Dover, Beach City, Bolivar and Mohawk dams and the Zoar levee.

“There will be greater flood damage reduction, both in human life risk and property damage,” explained Rodney Cremeans, project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps estimates the five projects will cost between $630 million and $685 million, mostly funded by federal dollars with a local share. (These are not dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as stimulus funding.)

What does all of this mean to you? Plenty.


Property owners within the Muskingum River Watershed will pay $125 million to $137 million into the construction work.

This money comes from an annual assessment fee collected by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District — the political subdivision for the Muskingum Basin. The fee ranges from $12 for residential and agricultural land to $132 per acre for commercial. In 2009, the district collected $9.15 million in fees.

In Stark County, all but the city of Alliance and the townships of Lake, Lexington, Washington and Marlboro are in the district. These areas drain north — not south — toward the Lake Erie Watershed.

John M. Hoopingarner, executive director for the Muskingum district, said assessment was needed to pay the local share and to receive major federal funds for the dam projects. The fees also pay for other area projects.

“We share the watershed, whether you live upstream or downstream, in managing the storm water runoff and flooding,” Hoopingarner said.

From 1934 through 1938, the Army Corps built 14 dams — including Dover, Beach City, Bolivar and Mohawk — for flood control in our region. They were funded by the Public Works Administration. Federal officials spent $40.9 million.

Army Corps spokeswoman Peggy Noel said these dams, to date, have prevented flood damage saving more than $3.9 billion.


This massive rehabilitation program — a partnership between the Army Corps and Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District — will start with the Dover Dam in Tuscarawas County.

The Dover Dam work could take at least five years to complete and cost roughly $101 million, Cremeans said. The concrete gravity dam needs a parapet wall — which increases the heighth of the dam — on top of the dam, anchors to stabilize the dam to the Tuscarawas River bedrock and higher spillway walls. The anchors would keep the dam from sliding downward, Cremeans said.

He said work on Dover Dam and the other four structures will have short-term and long-term benefits, one of those being employment.

For example, Noel said the Corps estimates the Dover Dam work will create 147 construction jobs, with combined wages around $7.8 million, at an hourly rate of $25 on average. Another 244 jobs, with combined wages estimated at $11.5 million, could be available on the Bolivar Dam project, which follows Dover Dam.


The Dover Dam will not eliminate all flooding. After a major storm, even with the upgraded dam, the Tuscarawas River will continue to spill over its banks and flood state Route 212 near Wilkshire Golf Club and Interstate 77.

Residents and motorists in the area have dealt with this headache — most recently in 2008 and 2005 — after the river swelled due to heavy rain and melting snow. The Dover Dam held back water, so officials could monitor the flow of water, and it flooded the road.

In those cases, Hoopingarner said, the Dover Dam had done its job, and it’s the road that is in the way, because the road runs through the flood zone.

“There is a perception that flood water stored by Dover Dam isn’t there for a purpose. In fact, it is,” he said.

Cremeans said they hope the rehabilitation work at the Bolivar Dam — upstream from Dover Dam — could reduce the Route 212 flooding because it could store more flood waters than it does now.

Bolivar Dam work is scheduled to begin in 2012.

Work on the other two dams and Zoar levee — still in design phase  — should follow.


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