Residents Push To Save Buckeye Lake And Fix Failing Dam

Published:
Updated:

The day after an engineer’s report warned that the dam surrounding Buckeye Lake could fail, there's word it's already hurting the local economy.  Real estate agents say contracts to buy homes are getting cancelled and reservations to rent cabins and boats are slowing.

The Army Corps of Engineers say in the event this dam would fail , it would send a eight-foot wave of water and mud downstream.

Homeowners say they aren't buying it and the doomsday report has killed the vibe on the lake.

"This property won't sell until they know what happens here," says Real Estate agent Mike Diamond.  He says selling a home on Buckeye Lake used to be a breeze.  "Buckeye Lake is the greatest place in the world.”

IMAGES: Potential Impact Areas

But that changed when fears the dam that surrounds a portion of the lake could fail.  Engineers called it a high risk for catastrophic failure. 

Diamond says it "kills the whole lake” he's already lost business.  On Wednesday, he was about to close on a property until news of the dam broke.

"I had both people satisfied and the guy said ‘no I can't do it.’"  Diamond is trying to sell a lake front home, but when news broke about the dam, he says no one will touch its selling price.

John Winkel, who built his home eight years ago on Buckeye Lake.

"That's why you live out here to look at to wake up on the lake to boat on the lake", says John Winkel, who built his home eight years ago on Buckeye Lake.

He says he can't imagine anything but water there. "I just don't want to believe it that it would be drained to a mud puddle."

But that could happen if the earthen dam that surrounds Buckeye Lake isn't repaired.  There are alternatives, but the state says it doesn't have the money. Some believe repairing the dam could take in excess of $100 million.

"It's liability now if the dam breaks (and) people die, because of it it's liability is where they're at,” says Diamond.

As for Mike Winkel, he's trying to remain optimistic.  He hopes the problem with the dam will be resolved so he and hundreds of others who live here will get keep their water front views, instead of mud.  "That would be a total bummer," he adds.

Buckeye Lake is spread over three counties and plans are already in the works to have county leaders meet with state and federal lawmakers to find a way to save the lake.  Fairfield County Commissioners say they plan to tell the state that draining the lake is not an option and should be taken off the table.

 

SLIDESHOW: Historial images of Buckeye Lake