Major project at Hoover Reservoir to keep water flowing

MARLA K. KUHLMAN
mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com
Construction workers set poles for temporary fencing prior to a construction project that will run from this fall through the winter of 2022.

A $15 million capital-improvement project for the Hoover Reservoir dam area near Westerville will begin soon.

Laura Young Mohr, spokesperson for the city of Columbus Department of Public Utilities, said an exact start date for construction had not been set as of Aug. 24, but it is expected to begin by the end of the month, with completion set in winter 2022.

"Columbus' Hoover Reservoir dam is an important element of the city's water-supply system," said C.R. Weaver, a project manager with the Division of Water. "The reservoir created by the dam provides water to the Hap Cremean Water Plant, which in turn supplies water to more than 600,000 customers in that service area."

Weaver said the dam and reservoir help to improve water quality, lower treatment costs, maintain the water supply during times of drought and provide opportunities for recreational use.

"Like all infrastructure, the dam requires periodic maintenance and rehabilitation to maintain it in a safe and reliable condition," he said. "This project will replace or rehabilitate major dam components, some of which date back to the original dam construction, which was completed in 1955.

"This investment will extend the life of this critical asset, allowing it to continue to serve its primary purpose of water supply for many years into the future."

The project, financed through low-interest loans paid back through Division of Water ratepayer revenue, will include replacing such dam equipment as gates, valves, piping and electrical and dehumidifying systems.

Areas to be closed during construction will include:

* The road and western portion of the pedestrian bridge on the crest of the dam

* The southern half of the parking lot on the west side of the dam off Sunbury Road

* The parking lot on the southwest side of the dam, adjacent to the soccer fields

* The road from the west parking lots to the parking lot on the southwest side of the dam

* The stairs on the west end of the dam

Other areas to be closed intermittently, with anticipated closure periods:

* Parking lot nearest the marina (anticipated winter 2021-22)

* East access road from Central College Road (anticipated fall 2020 and winter 2020-21)

* The stairs on the east end of the dam (anticipated summer 2020 through spring 2021)

* The dam spillway bridge (intermittent closures for various activities throughout construction)

Christa Dickey, the city of Westerville's community-affairs director, said the city anticipates extensive public information and answering questions concerning the project.

"Even though it (Hoover) is owned and managed by the city of Columbus, many people think of it as a Westerville site or property," she said. "We will keep information on our website (westerville.org) updated and help the city of Columbus Department of Public Utilities as needed."

Dickey said there could be temporary effects for the recreational trail in terms of a detour, which is managed by Westerville Parks & Recreation. There will be a detour on the recreation path that will use the sidewalk and will largely be managed by the contractor, with Westerville's oversight, she said.

The Columbus Department of Public Utilities owns and operates three in-stream drinking-water reservoirs that were created by constructed dams, including Hoover, the Griggs Reservoir in the Upper Arlington area and the O'Shaughnessy Reservoir in Delaware County near Powell.

The Hoover Reservoir was built on Big Walnut Creek in the early 1950s in the Westerville area and spans Franklin and Delaware counties.

It supplies water to the Hap Cremean Water Plant on Morse Road, according to a fact sheet provided by Columbus. A fact sheet about the project is online at bit.ly/3aPILLR.

Updates might be posted on twitter.com/CDPU and facebook.com/ColumbusPublicUtilities/.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla

Construction crews work on the Hoover Reservoir dam circa 1954. Construction began in 1952 and was completed in 1955.