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ODNR begins to drain Lake White to find out why it's losing water

A popular playground near Waverly in Pike County has been under construction in a project that includes re-building the dam and surrounding roadway. Now, officials want to understand why the lake is losing water, so they are manually lowering the levels. (WSYX/WTTE)

WAVERLY, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said Thursday they will begin draining Lake White at 9:00 p.m.

A popular playground near Waverly in Pike County has been under construction in a project that includes re-building the dam and surrounding roadway. Now, officials want to understand why the lake is losing water, so they are manually lowering the levels.

ODNR said in a statement:

"ODNR is currently investigating an unidentified source of water movement at the Lake White reservoir. This unusual occurrence is potentially the cause of lower water levels around the lake. ODNR dam engineers are lowering the water level to allow a full safety inspection. Engineers do not believe the dam is at risk of failure, but this action is being taken out of an abundance of caution. ODNR staff are notifying area residents prior to commencing the lowering process in order to allow them to take the appropriate actions to secure their boats and property. ODNR expects to begin lowering the lake at 9 p.m."

People who live at Lake White have contacted ABC 6 On Your Side and FOX 28 about the lake levels over the past few weeks and want answers to their concerns.

Braydon Bevons who lives on the 337 acre lake said residents are feeling extreme frustration right now. "We've been voicing our concerns for nearly three weeks, constantly being assured everything is fine. Then, with only an hour notice, on a week night before a major storm event we are notified by the media that we need to have our vessels removed. This is an example of why are so skeptical of what ODNR and officials tell us."

The $32 million project was scheduled to be complete this summer and the road project by mid July.

Authorities closed the popular state park at Lake White as they worked to determine what was causing a leak in the earthen dam.The 79 year old dam is graded as a Class One dam, which means flooding from a breach would cause destruction of property and death. Recreations on the lake has resumed this summer but residents said the water levels are still not completely safe for activities and that many areas have debris that cause hidden dangers.

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