Tuesday, January 16th, 2007
By Daily Standard Staff
Pumping again to protect Grand Lake area houses
By JANIE SOUTHARD and LAURA WALKER
Gerald and Linda Conover, whose lakeside home sits on the southwest corner of the Northwood subdivision, are no strangers to high water.
Rain and wind surges on Grand Lake have flooded their property many, many times during the past 14 years.
At 9 a.m. Monday, the Conovers' pumping system had their back property free of water.
"By noon the rain and wind had the whole thing under water again. This is the sixth time in the last four to six months we've had to pump water off our property," Linda Conover said on Monday afternoon as waves continued to break in her back yard. "And, it's the third time this subdivision has been really flooded."
Almost all of the Northwood shoreline, off state Route 703 on the north side of the lake, is underwater and water still was rising as of Monday afternoon. Conover named at least two neighbors who in the past have had several inches of water in their homes.
"What really irritates me is that this lake can be lowered, which would avoid all this flooding. Why don't they anticipate what we all know will happen when the lake is too high? They just refuse to do it," she said, adding railroad ties from the Conovers' landscaping floated into the driveway during a storm on Dec. 1.
"I have to wonder just where our tax money is going," she said.
According to Brian Miller, assistant manager at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park, the state's Division of Parks does not draw down the lake's level.
He said that in 1997 when the West Bank spillway was installed, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources designated the spillway and lake as self-maintaining and self-regulating.
"The spillway is opened and closed twice each year strictly to ensure (the mechanism) is working properly," Miller said, adding the opening and shutting of the spillway is done all in one day.
At this time, the state has no intention to begin regulating the level of the lake, he said.
But the lake has been a topic with the state, as ODNR is under litigation involving the operation of the spillway.
In a nutshell, five farmers along Beaver Creek and the Wabash River sued the state for flooding their land, which they blame on water overflowing from the lake via the spillway. The farmers won that suit; the state appealed and the farmers won again.
Local farmers are awaiting a trial date to determine state compensation for their loss of land. The state has not yet filed any further appeals.
Meanwhile, no more rain is forecast locally for the remainder of the week.
Troy Anderson, director of the Auglaize County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, checked areas on Monday that typically flood and reported only high water.
"The lake must rise another 6 inches before areas will need to sandbag," he said, adding the lake is currently up about 12 inches. The lake was last at normal pool on Oct. 4.
Anderson attributes flooding in areas, which don't usually flood, to the increase of logjams on the St. Marys River.
He said the logjams are the result of several tornadoes that have passed through the area in the past.
"The county has funds to keep the river clean, but not enough to clean up these large logjams. We requested more funds for this project from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but we were denied," he said.
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