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Environment & Energy

Water Levels Impact Muskingum Watershed Lakes Over Holiday

A photo of Leesville Lake
Leesville Lake in Carroll County is 8 feet above its normal water level.

Lakes in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District are reaching record levels. That means there are some restrictions for boaters who plan to enjoy the water on the Fourth of July.

The watershed shut down launch ramps for Atwood and Leesville lakes in Carroll County because they are underwater. Boaters can still use the lakes, but there are no-wake zones in place because of floating debris.

Muskingum Watershed Chief of Recreation Scott Barnhart said these safety decisions come at a cost.

“We have users recreating on the lakes or in our parks or campgrounds. That’s really the peak of our summer season," he said. "It’s unfortunate this is occurring right over the July 4th holiday. That’s a very popular destination for many people.”

Barnhart said Pleasant Hill Lake in Ashland County is nearly back to normal, and restrictions on Charles Mill Lake near Mansfield are likely to be lifted Thursday.

Barnhart said the water levels should be back to normal in a few weeks.

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the water levels, and Barnhart said the levels should return to normal in a few weeks.

Water Levels Impact Muskingum Watershed Lakes Over Holiday
Water levels slowly decreasing

“And it appears to be going down at about three-tenths of a foot per day. So, it’s going to be a few weeks before Leesville is back to near normal, and Atwood all depends on the levels they’re holding at Dover," he said. "So, I’m not sure when Atwood is going to return to normal, but we’re hoping soon.”

Barnhart said the rising water levels are normal but not for this late in the year. The Fourth of July is a popular boating holiday, and he said the restrictions will have an economic impact.