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Shaker Heights' Horseshoe Lake Dam at Risk for Failure, Could Lead to Property Damage and Death

map of Horseshoe Lake Dam
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Without a permanent fix for damages to the dam, the structure has the potential to fail. Failure of the Horseshoe Lake dam could result in flooding and severe damage.

Shaker Heights City Council is expected tomorrow to approve a short-term solution for a failing 170-year-old dam Tuesday.

Recent rainfalls have caused cracking in various areas on the face of Horseshoe Lake dam. The lake was previously drained to protect a total failure, but the lake fills during rainfall, putting pressure on it.

Frank Greenland, director of Watershed Programs for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, warns that failure of the dam could have dire consequences.

Greenland on damage from dam breach

“Should the dam blow out, there could be significant property damage in the downstream path of the flood water, as well as the potential for loss of human life,” he said.

Greenland recommends removal of the dam and restoration of stream segments. The short-term solution includes removing a portion of the dam and creating a pathway to divert water to into the Doan Brook, which is expected to take four weeks.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media. A Northeast Ohio native and lifelong listener of public radio, Abigail started in public radio as a news intern at WKSU. She graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Kent State University.
Kelsey Paulus is a Junior studying journalism at Kent State University. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in journalism with a minor in design. Along with interning for WKSU, Kelsey is also a co-producer of TV2’s kentcore and a designer for A Magazine. She is an aspiring music journalist and hopes to work in the magazine industry someday.