Engineers address rising water levels in local reservoirs

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Workers at flood control dams in the area took advantage of the lack of rain on Monday to lower reservoir levels.

Workers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been releasing water from the gates of the Berlin Dam and others like it in the area. So much rain has fallen recently, Berlin Reservoir is about 5 feet higher than it normally is at this time of the year.

The nearby Shenango Reservoir is even higher than that.

“We are essentially about two-thirds full and that is a significant amount. We have to be fairly aggressive in making the releases so that we are ready for the next storm that by,” Lewis Kwett, a hydrologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said.

Kwett said the gates of the dam were actually closed during the weekend’s heavy rains to prevent even more flooding on creeks and rivers downstream. Once that threat for flash flooding had passed, the dam’s gates were opened again to help lower the water levels on the reservoir.

“It makes it a little harder getting in and out of the boat and when you are by yourself, you gotta be extra careful,” Andy Zagotti of North Lima said.

And even though water already covers part of the dock at the boat launch, Zagotti said it has been much higher in the past.

All the same., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been trying to balance reservoir levels with nearly daily rainfall the region has seen.

“The lake has risen 5 feet over our target summer level and we only have about 2.3 feet left before it would go over the spillway,” Kwett said.

Kwett said the dams serve to maintain safe levels on the rivers downstream, but in doing so, reservoirs are filling quickly. He said releases like this could cause high water problems nearby, but he stressed the Corps mission is to reduce the potential for flooding for the region as a whole.

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