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Environment & Energy

More Than a Hundred Dams in Ohio in Poor Condition

The dam at Buckeye Lake undergoes repairs in March of 2015.
Construction began on repairs to the crumbling earthen dam at Buckeye Lake in March 2015. Water levels were lowered, which upset residents, businesses and visitors. The project ended in November 2018.

Just over a year ago, the $100 million project to repair the crumbling earthen dam at Buckeye Lake was finished two years early.  But the state is looking at dozens of the 1,420 dams in Ohio that could be failing.

The state says 124 dams are in poor or unsatisfactory condition. ODNR Director Mary Mertz says her agency is working its way through the list, but there aren’t any emergencies like Buckeye Lake’s dam on it.

“No, not that I’m concerned about that we’re going to wake up tomorrow and see a big dam breach.”

And the problems aren't just with state and government owned dams - most U.S. dams are privately owned.

“We’ve been working pretty assertively with the Attorney General’s office when a dam owner is not in compliance to take action to really make sure that they do what needs to be done.”

An AP investigation says Ohio has the fifth highest number of dams in bad shape among the 45 states that complied with its public records requests.