PIKE CO., OH (WCMH) — It was another lost summer for residents and businesses around Lake White in Pike County. For the third year in a row, the water level was kept several feet below the “summer pool” level out of concern for possible leaks in the dam.
The lower water level makes the lake unusable for boating.
Gary and Stef Kesig of Grove City bought a house on the lake six years ago. This summer they’ve been coming to the house to “mow and go” – to just mow the grass and go back home.
“It’s frustrating,” says Stef. “Our family would like to be down here. The kids can’t get in the water. We have little great-grandkids. They can’t get in the water. You can’t do the boating activities we bought the house to participate in.”
It was Labor Day weekend in 2014 that ODNR engineers first lowered the lake when leaks were discovered in the dam. The state subsequently spent $31.7 million to rebuild the dam.
Earlier this summer residents complained that the water level in the lake kept dropping. State officials initially said the water was likely drinking into an underground aquifer and would soon stabilize.
Residents started pointing to possible leaks in the new dam and the state decided to lower the water level again at the end of June.
A spokesman for The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says nothing has changed since June. “We are still conducting tests to determine the cause of water movement.”
The most recent statement on the Lake White State Park website says “engineers do not believe the dam is at risk of failure” but that the water level was lowered this summer out of an abundance of caution.
Rick Ford at Bill’s Bait House says three summers without a lake has taken its toll.
“No water, no boats, no business,” Ford said. “They spent $32 million on it and it leaks worse now than it did before they started it. So that’s very discouraging to have $32 million worth of taxpayers money spent and to no avail.”