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Question: What is the construction taking place at the Clear Fork Reservoir dam? 

MANSFIELD — A $1.4 million seepage mitigation project is underway at the 74-year-old Clear Fork Reservoir earthen dam.

City of Mansfield engineer Bob Bianchi said Tuesday the project began several weeks ago and should be complete by mid November.

“The project is going very well at this point,” he said, adding the work is being done to improve seepage under the dam and extend its lifespan.

“There are no safety issues at all with the dam,” Bianchi said.

City Council approved the project in 2022, which will be paid for with $1 million from the city’s share of American Rescue Plan Act funds and $400,000 from the city’s water fund.

The project is being handled by Shook Construction from Breckvsville, Trucco Construction from Delaware and Stantec Engineering, a global company with offices throughout Ohio, according to Bianchi.

The reservoir, seven miles southwest of Mansfield near Ohio 97, was designed to be the major source of water for the City of Mansfield and was completed in 1949. It holds about 4.4 billion gallons of water.

Situated in the upper Clear Fork Valley, the lake contains 997 surface acres of water and 14 miles of shoreline. Thirty-five square miles of farmland act as a collector of rainwater to keep the supply of water in the reservoir as constant as possible, according to the city’s website. It has a maximum depth of 24 feet.

In explaining the need for the project to City Council in 2021, Bianchi said water has been seeping under and through portions of the dam since the 1970s.

At that time, he said the project would install a filter berm covering about two acres. According to the website www.damsafety.org, all earthen dams have seepage as the impounded water seeks paths of least resistance through the dam and its foundation.

Bianchi said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources required the work to be done. As part of the project, the city had to spend $110,200 to purchase “wetland credits” through the Ohio EPA.

Bianchi said in 2022 the city needed to fill in 0.91 acres of Category 2 wetlands during the project, requiring the “purchase” of 1.9 wetlands credits.

The money goes to The Nature Conservancy, an environmental organization that protects “nearly 65,000 acres of Ohio’s lakes, forests, rivers and rolling hills,” according to its website.

A wetland credit is a unit of trade used to offset ecological losses that occur in U.S. waters, which are regulated by the EPA or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

(Below are photos taken Tuesday morning during the construction project now underway at the Clear Fork Reservoir dam.)


— The elevation of the spillway is 1202 feet above sea level. 90% of the lake is more than 10 feet deep. The capacity of the reservoir is 4.4 billion gallons at the 1,202 elevation level.

— The lake together with 1,000 acres of surrounding land is available for picnicking, boating, fishing, camping, hiking, hunting and other forms of recreation are available. Clear Fork Reservoir is accessible not only to the residents of Mansfield but also to individuals who seek relaxation at this beautiful site.

— Three picnic areas, located along State Route 97 are open to the public without charge and picnic tables, charcoal burners, drinking fountains, restrooms, and shelters are available for use. In 1986, a handicapped picnic area and fishing pier were constructed in Picnic Area #2 to ensure that the physically challenged can take advantage of this beautiful and relaxing site.

— Boating is permitted on the lake with no horsepower limit. However, there is a no-wake policy for the entire lake. Boat rental is available at the marina. Fishing from boats is permitted on the lake, except in the area within 500 feet of the dam. Shore fishing is permitted on the south and west shores only.

— Ample dock spaces can be leased on a seasonal basis.

Source: City of Mansfield

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when...