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Lake White residents demand answers as to why water levels are receding during project

Homeowners who live near Lake White are demanding answers as the water level has been dropping significantly over the past couple weeks. (WSYX/WTTE)

WAVERLY, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- Homeowners who live near Lake White are demanding answers as the water level has been dropping significantly over the past couple weeks.

A $34-million road, bridge, and dam project was expected to be complete in June.

But some are worried the summer season at a favorite southern Ohio playground won't be what they had hoped for. Officials said the dam is armored and complete and the roller compacted concrete has been layed.

ODNR said in a statement that they want to assure area residents that the dam at Lake White State Park remains safe in light of a recent decline in lake levels.

"The determination was made by ODNR following on-site inspections this week by its engineers and dam safety experts. The lake level was allowed to reach summer pool in late April following completion of dam safety improvements that began in fall 2015. In recent weeks, the lake level has dropped due to the recharging of the regional aquifer combined with a lack of rainfall and normal evaporation. During construction, the level of Lake White was held well below normal pool to allow for construction of dam improvements. Recent reports of water being observed flowing out from a series of 6-inch diameter drains at the toe of the dam below the spillway is significantly due to groundwater flow. ODNR is monitoring the outflow of water through the toe drains daily in addition to the lake level. Lake White is known to fill rapidly following significant rain events within the large watershed and the small size of the lake," said the statement from ODNR spokesman Matt Eiselstein.

Michael Murray lives next to the lake and has been boating in the past few weeks. But Murray is concerned soon he won't be able to get his boat out because the water has been receding about an inch per day.

"The level was up to where whenever you would step off the dock into the boat it was level. Now you gotta step down about a foot to get into the boat If they have to lower it to find the problem or repair the problem I hope they do it at the end of the season," said Murray.

The Ohio Department of Transportation expects their bridge repair and road re-construction projects around the lake to be complete by mid-July.

ODOT said engineers from ODNR came to the lake recently and investigated the leaking water and concluded everything was working the way it was designed to.

ODOT Deputy Director Vaughn Wilson said they have had some challenges to overcome, but soon will be putting finishing touches on their part of the project.

Concerned resident Braydon Bevens said they have been pressing for answers as to why the water levels are going down.

"Just because the levy is a safe structure doesn't necessarily mean that isn't letting water percolate thru that shouldn't be."

"It has been three years. We were ready to have the lake, ready to have it open and now it is going to be questionable on can we use it or now. Should you even have your boat in the water?" asked Bevens.

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