US Army Corps of Engineers
Huntington District

Project Description

The Muskingum River sub-basin is the largest single drainage system in Ohio. At 8,095 square miles, the Muskingum drainage extends from Marietta, Ohio on the Ohio River northward to within 25 miles of the shoreline of Lake Erie. The sub-basin encompasses 5 counties and portions of 22 others. A number of cities and urban areas dot this landscape surrounded by cultivated and forested land covers. The northern and western portions of the region were glaciated featuring rolling hills, deep soils and broad valleys while the southern and eastern sections were spared the advances of glaciers and feature more rugged terrain. The estimated population of this hydrologic region is 1.5 million with projections of 22 percent growth by 2050.

Due to damaging floods in the 1930s, a system of reservoirs was authorized for construction by USACE. Today there are 14 reservoirs operating in the region thanks to that original authorization. An additional two reservoirs were authorized later and now Dillon (1959) and North Branch Kokosing River (1972) lakes are operated by USACE for flood control purposes as well. Four of the original reservoirs are single-purpose reservoirs for flood control and have no permanent conservation pool ("dry-dams"). Average annual flood damages prevented by this system are estimated at $90.0 million. The original 14 reservoirs were developed in close cooperation with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District and the lands acquired for the projects are now operated exclusively by the MWCD for recreation and other purposes; the dams are operated by USACE. Several of the 16 reservoirs provide water supplies for surrounding counties and municipal areas and extensive day-use and overnight recreation facilities including lodging facilities and golf courses are operated by the MWCD. All of the counties and approximately 140 municipal jurisdictions participate in the national flood insurance program (NFIP).

Water Resources Issues

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The sub-basin features a combination of cultivated, urban and forested land covers and agriculture is a substantial land use (about 60% of the land cover) in the region. In addition, there has been coal mining in eight counties in the region and those largely "abandoned" facilities continue to contribute to the degradation of water quality through acid-mine drainage. Both of these activities provide employment and their share of impacts. The sub-basin has a number of streams classified by the state and USEPA as "impaired waters" (HUC 05040001, 02, 03, 04, 05 & 06) due to sedimentation, nutrient loading and other point and non-point pollution sources. Increased sedimentation has threatened numerous sub-basin reservoirs due to eutrophication and accelerated utilization of sediment storage capacity. The increases in population have resulted in many instances of uncontrolled stormwater runoff (growth of impervious surfaces), degradation of stream and riparian habitat, channel instability and reduced groundwater recharge.

In addition to the issues of water quality the sub-basin, despite the number of operating reservoirs and 5 local protection projects, still is ravaged by flood damages. Average annual flood damages across the region are estimated to be $40.5 million with transportation, residential and commercial uses bearing the brunt of those damages. Major flood events in 1969 and 1998 resulted in substantial damages to small unprotected communities. Heavy rainfall in 2005 resulted in 13 of the 16 reservoirs reaching record flood pools with much concern for the structural stability of several of the aging structures. The aging flood risk reduction structures in the Muskingum sub-basin are of significant concern to USACE. Four of the reservoirs listed as DSAC 2 structures of the main report for rehabilitation under the Dam Safety Program are located in the Muskingum sub-basin (Bolivar, Beach City, Mohawk, and Dover).

Muskingum River Drainage Map

Potential Studies or Projects through Standing Authorities

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The presence of many small communities at risk from flood damages indicates the potential for use of the Section 205 Small Flood Control Projects authority under the CAP to implement small structural projects or nonstructural projects such as a flood warning system for the sub-basin. The presence of aquatic habitat degradation through abandoned mines (four specific sites identified) and other sources indicates the potential for use of the Section 206 Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Program or the Section 1135 Environmental Improvement Program under the CAP authority. The downstream water quality issues associated with single port water intakes at older reservoirs (five reservoirs identified) and potential for reallocation of storage among the 14 reservoirs to increase authorized benefits both open the potential for application of the Section 216 Review of Completed Projects authority. Issues of floodplain management and stormwater runoff open the potential for application of the Section 22 Planning Assistance to States authority to locations in the sub-basin.

Existing USACE Projects

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As noted above, there are 16 reservoirs in the sub-basin and five local protection projects. Fourteen of the 16 reservoirs were constructed between 1933 and 1938 with Dillon in 1957 and North Branch of Kokosing River completed in 1972. The five local protection projects (Massillon, Mount Vernon, Newark, Canton and Roseville) are operated by non-Federal local sponsors. 

Atwood Lake

Beach City Lake

Bolivar Dam

Charles Mill Lake

Clendening Lake

Dillon Lake

Dover Dam

Leesville Lake

Mohawk Dam 

 Mohicanville Dam

North Branch of Kokosing River Lake 

Piedmont Lake 

Pleasant Hill Lake

Senecaville Lake

Tom Jenkins Dam

Wills Creek Lake