SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — The City of Shaker Heights will perform an emergency controlled breach of the Horseshoe lake Dam in late October. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the state’s dam regulatory agency, this is a necessary step to protect the public safety of residents, as a failure of the dam would cause catastrophic property damage and probably loss of life downstream.
The city announced Wednesday that a contractor, from River Reach Construction, will remove a section of the dam south of the stone observation deck, which will allow the water that collects in the lake bed to flow out to Doan Brook.
This will prevent the lake from filling during heavy rain and reducing the possibility of a dam failure. The city said plans for the controlled breach were designed by the engineering firm AECOM Technical Services.
The contractor will also shore up the tunnel underneath the observation deck to prevent water from creating additional voids in the structure. This includes inserting pipe in the tunnel and filling the space between the new pipe and the existing tunnel with grout.
The walkway across the observation deck will remain closed to the public. Additional fencing will be installed. The project is scheduled to take about six weeks.
The city has worked with ODNR to prevent a possible dam failure. It started in 2018 when ODNR directed the city to lower the water level of the lake. In 2019, ODRN directed the city to completely drain the lake.
In the summer of 2020, after July’s heavy rains, the city noticed further deterioration of the Horseshoe Lake dam. It was determined by the city, AECOM and ODNR that the dam and spillway were in active failure mode and posed a serious threat to the public.
Details for a long-term solution for the popular lake are pending. News 5 has spoken to residents who look at the lake as a piece of pride and peace for everyone who lives nearby. Many are conflicted about the removal of the dam, with safety and preserving the environment both noted as concerns.
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