Hundreds Of Residents Gather To Discuss Solutions For Buckeye Lake Dam Situation

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Close to 500 residents from the Buckeye Lake region got a chance Tuesday night to voice concerns and share solutions to the serious problems at the lake.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources released a United States Army Corps of Engineers report last week that says the dam that holds back the water at Buckeye Lake is at risk of catastrophic failure. Possible solutions include draining the popular lake.

The Fairfield County commissioners held Tuesday night’s meeting at the Liberty Center to give residents a chance to make their voices heard. They also invited ODNR representatives since state officials ultimately will make the decision on the lake.

As resident after resident spoke, it was clear they weren't shy about their feelings regarding the report on a possible catastrophic Buckeye Lake dam failure.

"It is not gonna burst,” said Lois Holler. “If it does burst, you're not going to get an 8 foot wall of water out of a 6 foot body.”

The Army Corps of Engineers is recommending the Buckeye Lake dam be replaced immediately or the lake drained completely. Residents like Jason Hand were at odds with the recommendations.

"If they're so worried about it, why are they not on the dam right now watching? Why is this guy from ODNR even here if the dam is gonna collapse?" Hand asked.

Millersport Mayor Dean Severance spoke on behalf of the businesses that would be hurt by a lack of boating on the lake.

"It's gonna really, really hurt our economy tremendously,” he said. “And it really hurts my heart to see that."

Other residents echoed those comments including Steve DeBruin, who runs a veterinary clinic in Millersport.

“We would see a trickle-down effect,” he said. "We would probably have to lay off people because we wouldn't have that much work to do."

DeBruin's wife, Patty, also shared her views. She urged commissioners and ODNR representatives to save Buckeye Lake.  "Ask not what your dam can do for you but what you can do for that dam,” she said to a round of applause.

She says she was thankful for the opportunity to share and is hopeful the decision-makers were paying attention.  "The people want to know that someone is listening,” DeBruin said.

Fairfield County commissioners tell 10TV they are hoping to have a meeting with ODNR's director to discuss the public comments.

For now, the state is keeping Buckeye Lake at winter water levels.