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Environment & Energy

ODNR Seeks Permit From OEPA on Portage Lakes Dam Project

East Reservoir dam
Tim Rudello
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WKSU
Portage Lakes East Reservoir dam

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is usually an issuer of regulatory permits, but for parts of its $75-million Portage Lakes dam project, it is the applicant.

OEPA public meeting
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
/
WKSU
OEPA public meeting Portage Lakes

Mike Settles
Credit Tm Rudell / WKSU
/
WKSU
Mike Settles OEPA

ODNR is in a multi-year project of upgrading or replacing the dams and spillways of the Portage Lakes—many date to the 1830s and the Ohio & Erie Canal.  But some work could affect water quality so that means permits from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency ultimately approved by its director.

OEPA spokesman Mike Settles talked about that during a public meeting last week.  “We take a look at not only the potential impact of the water, but the socio and economic potential impacts of this project.  And we have to weigh that against public safety, and public need.  And if DNR is saying there need to be improvements to this damn or else it runs the risk of failure, that’s going to weigh very heavily in our Director’s decision.”

The five-stage fix-up is now focusing on East Reservoir Dam.