Following a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ report on the structural integrity of the Buckeye Lake dam, the State of Ohio has committed to rebuilding it, according to WOSU News. The price tag is hefty, estimated to come in at more than $125 million.
While the long-term project is underway, Ohio Governor John Kasich has said that water levels in Buckeye Lake will remain at winter pool levels, feet lower than levels it has maintained in the past. Business owners around the lake are understandably nervous about the drop, and expect it may impact their profits.
“There’ll be no negotiations on the height of that water. We have a winter pool situation which puts less pressure on that dam,” said Kasich at a press conference. “We don’t want to get into a discussion about well, we can have it a little bit higher, we can water ski. Plenty of water skiing once this is done. But in the meantime we don’t want to jeopardize anybody’s life because we are in any way casual about this circumstance.”
With lower water levels all but assured for Buckeye Lake, what ecological effects will be felt? No doubt many are concerned with possible impacts to the lake’s famous – and rare – cranberry bog. It relies on more acidic waters just to exist, and many wonder how the bog’s acidity will change with less water.
It’s difficult to say what impacts lower water levels will bring to the cranberry bog. Jim Zehringer, the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, made some predictions for Buckeye Lake overall, saying that nutrient flows to the lake could be reduced and that fish kills may come.
“That’s something – fish can be replaced,” said Zehringer, in a video taken by the Newark Advocate. “So we may have to deal with these, but it’s better than dealing with a massive flood.”
Buckeye Lake will have to face lower water levels in its own ways, but low levels have had impacts on other lakes worldwide. In addition to reduced nutrient levels and fish kills that Zehringer foresees, some of these include:
- loss of fish habitat;
- drops in recreational usage by boaters and anglers;
- the exposure of litter and trash long-hidden by water;
- and impacts on shoreline erosion rates.