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The original item was published from 12/21/2021 9:37:00 AM to 1/3/2022 12:20:09 PM.

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Shaker Heights City News

Posted on: October 6, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Horseshoe Lake Dam Controlled Breach


Updated December 21

Weather permitting, the project will be substantially complete the week of December 27.

Updated November 23

Due to weather delays, the project will continue into mid-December. 

Updated November 1 

Please note the following details for the emergency controlled breach of the Horseshoe Lake dam (read more about this project below):

  • The project will start November 2; anticipated duration is 30 days (weather permitting)
  • Excavation for the breach will start the week of November 8; this stage of the project will take three weeks
  • The final week of the project will be stabilizing the tunnel and site restoration

Residents are asked to please stay away from this area for the duration of the project. There will be large machinery entering and exiting the work site; this poses a danger to public safety.

Posted October 6

In late October, the City will perform an emergency controlled breach of the Horseshoe Lake dam. This is a necessary step to protect public safety, as a failure of the Horseshoe Lake dam would cause catastrophic property damage and probable loss of life downstream, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the State's dam regulatory agency.

A contractor for the City (River Reach Construction) will remove a section of the dam south of the stone observation deck. This controlled breach will allow water that collects in the lakebed to flow out to the Doan Brook, thereby preventing the lake from filling during heavy rain and reducing the possibility of a dam failure. Plans for the controlled breach were designed by the engineering firm AECOM Technical Services Inc. (Click here to view AECOM's October 12 presentation to City Council.)

The contractor will also shore up the tunnel underneath the observation deck (the spillway) to prevent water from creating additional voids in this structure. This work includes inserting pipe in the tunnel and filling the space between the
new pipe and existing tunnel with grout.

Over the past several years, the City has worked closely with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to reduce the possibility that the Horseshoe Lake dam fails. In 2018, ODNR directed the City to lower the water level of the lake; in 2019, ODNR directed the City to drain the lake completely. Last summer, after July's heavy rains, the City observed further deterioration of the Horseshoe Lake dam and spillway. Additional investigation by the City, AECOM and ODNR determined that the dam/spillway are in active failure mode and a serious threat to public safety. The controlled breach, a short-term, interim solution, will further reduce the possibility that the dam/spillway fails. ODNR has reviewed the plans and is inagreement with this approach. Details for a long-term solution for Horseshoe Lake are pending (click here to learn more about the recommendations).

The walkway across the observation deck will remain closed to the public. Additional fencing will be installed once the breach is complete. The project is anticipated to take six weeks. 

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