By Nancy Allen
Discussion on a drawdown policy for Grand Lake to lessen flooding during rain events didn't get very far during Monday night's Lake Restoration Committee meeting.
Steve Zumberge, a farmer with land downstream from the lake is trying to gather support for such a policy. Zumberge is one of five farmers suing the state over flooding of their farmland they claim has been worsened since installation of the new spillway in 1997.
Rain overflow water from the lake enters Beaver Creek via the spillway and then flows into the Wabash River.
Zumberge had asked for discussion on a drawdown policy at the last Lake Improvement Association meeting on June 3 and was told the LIA's Lake Restoration Committee meetings would be a better forum for the discussion.
Zumberge on Monday night said such a policy would benefit more than just farmers downstream, noting that the south side of the lake suffers from flooding during rain events. Six inches of rain received in some parts of the county June 1 and 2 caused road closings and flooding. The lake's south side was hit particularly hard. Vic Woodall, chairman of the LRC, said while a drawdown policy seems to make sense, he wants data from an expert that would determine when and how much water should be let out.
"Many of those experts are at the state and they aren't talking because of the lawsuit," Woodall said.
Area farmer Joe Langenkamp, also an LIA member, said he remembers when the state used to lower the lake in the winter to preserve docks from ice damage.
"I can see where June is not a good time to draw it down because of business around the lake ...," he said. "But I could see in November being a good time."
The state discontinued its drawdown policy after construction of the new spillway. The new spillway has tubes in it that can be opened to let water out of the lake.
Zumberge asked Mercer County Commissioners during their meeting on June 6 to schedule a public meeting on the matter and said it's an issue the county should get involved in.
"It's a county issue, not just an issue for those downstream," Zumberge said. "I hope everyone comes to the meeting once commissioners schedule it.
Tom Rampe also reported during Tuesday's meeting that an Ohio EPA public hearing held last week to take comments on a proposed housing development that would destroy two acres of wetlands on the lake went well.
The wetlands are located on the east side of County Line Road at the intersection of Koehn Road in Auglaize County. Richard Swartz, representing Southshore Acres Inc. in Schaumburg, Ill., has requested a permit to fill in the wetlands to build Water Color Estates, a 13-lot single-family housing subdivision in St. Marys Township.
"I would be very surprised if the EPA lets the development occur," Rampe said.