Updated Wed, Sep 3, 2014 11:50 am
A routine maintenance inspection on Friday afternoon at Lake White State Park resulted in officers noticing unusual levels of seepage along the southern edge of the Lake White dam spillway.
Bethany McCorkle, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), said on Tuesday that both gates of the spillway are open, and the lake has been lowered to the level of winter pool in an attempt to discover the source of the problem.
The lake level is continuing to be lowered by additional drainage devices, McCorkle said, since the natural flow of water will no longer travel over the spillway at the lake’s current level.
“Ever since Friday, we’ve had around-the-clock monitoring on location, and that will continue, as well,” McCorkle said.
According to McCorkle, there is a balance between lowering the lake level and watching the seepage and assessing whether or not the flow is changing or decreasing in an attempt to identify where the issue occurred. She said the investigation is still ongoing, and there is no time-frame for how long work at the dam and spillway might take.
“We feel that the dam’s stable,” McCorkle said. “We don’t think it’s going to breach, but things could change quickly, so we wanted to make sure we’re on scene so that if something does change, we have the safety of the people in mind and can take care of that issue. But we didn’t want boats stranded, as well.”
On Saturday, ODNR was encouraging boat owners to remove their boats from the water in the event the lake needed to be drawn down further, and, according to McCorkle, everyone who ODNR worked with at the lake was very cooperative and understood the need to remove the boats.
“The last thing we want is boats stuck in the mud,” she said.
McCorkle mentioned that it was unfortunate that this situation happened on Labor Day weekend but that everyone was very willing to cooperate. However, it has been reported that some boats are stranded in the lake.
McCorkle said that ODNR will not know what the next steps are until the assessment is completed.
“We have engineer consultants on scene, as well, for the dam, so when we find out what the cause is, then we’ll be able to put the plans in place for what the remedy is.”
ODNR updated its website on Tuesday, stating that due to limited day-use parking and the need to stage equipment and supplies, ODNR has closed Lake White State Park until further notice.
State Route 104 at the park site was closed all weekend and remains closed as of Tuesday. According to Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the road will be closed until further notice.
Route 104 traffic is being detoured by way of U.S. Route 23 at Waverly and state Route 32 at Piketon.