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Ohio


Army Corps rules out removing the levee and flooding historic Zoar
What will be done about the leaky earthen dam is still unknown
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
Water damaged the foundation to the historic Bimeler House, which had to be raised and restored.
Courtesy of Robert Sustersic
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In The Region:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has ruled out moving the historic village of Zoar and letting the original site in northern Tuscarawas County flood. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more.

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Zoar was settled in the early 19th century by German separatists. It’s been protected by an earthen levee built in the 1930s that’s been seeping water for years. And after several major floods in the last decade, the Army Corps put that levee on its “urgent and compelling” list and started considering options. 

One was moving the town and removing the levee, and that’s the one that concerned a lot of people – locally and statewide. It even earned Zoar a spot on the national list of Most Endangered Historic Sites. 

At a hearing in March, the Army Corps’ Aaron Smith acknowledged a bit of irony in considering removing the levee. 

“It wasn’t built to protect a large population center. It wasn’t built to protect a huge economic investment. It wasn’t a factory, that sort of thing. It was built principally as an historic preservation project.” 

Even back in March, the corps was hinting that it did not want to flood the village, but said it had to consider all options – and not just potential historic impacts. It needed to take everything from finances to endangered bird counts. 

What might be done instead of flooding remains up in the air, and the Columbus Dispatch is reporting that may not be resolved for a year.

 

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