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Progress steady on flood damage repairs at Marion Reservoir

Staff writer

Waters in some coves are coated with ice, but repair work on damage from record flooding at Marion Reservoir this past summer continues steadily as staff race to get ready for spring.

“Our target is to have 60 percent of campsites open by April 1,” said assistant lake manager Kevin McCoy. “That’s not set in stone — that’s a target.”

More than a third of a year’s worth of rainfall fell in three weeks this past May, pushing the reservoir over its capacity for just the second time in its history. High water continued well into August when some limited camping reopened in Marion Cove, which had the only usable boat dock.

McCoy estimates the damage to the lake’s campgrounds at $1 million.

“This is just infrastructure damaged by high water,” he said, adding that the revenue lost during a washed-out tourism season was a “domino effect.”

At the reservoir, especially Cottonwood Point, which saw heavy damage, McCoy runs down a long to do list of repairs before staff can safely open. They include:

  • Electric pedestals need to be replaced and repaired and rewired.
  • Picnic tables smashed by strong waves need to be repaired.
  • Water systems damaged and leaking need to be fixed.
  • Gravel washed away by water needs to be put down again;
  • Asphalt roads need to be resurfaced.
  • Damaged boat docks need repair.
  • Blue green algae stains need to be scrubbed wherever found.

In addition, hundreds of “hazard trees” harmed by high water have been identified for possible removal.

“We lost lots of pine and elm,” he said. “Our ornamentals have also not fared very well.”

The trees have been wrapped with yellow caution tape and their location mapped with GPS. A Marion High School student helped with the project.

“We have 200 that we have marked that we are keeping our eyes on,” McCoy said. “This spring we will see which have survived winter.”

He said he plans a replanting effort to replace some of the loss.

Efforts to cull dead trees may keep some areas closed longer.

Some areas at Marion Cove, Hillsboro Cove and French Creek have been reopened and work on the bridge over the dam is complete allowing fishing in the spillway.

Some areas listed as ‘closed’ now will open up for reservations as the season nears. McCoy said he urges the public to check the reservoir’s web site for availability.

In the meantime, staff at the lake will keep going down the list.

“There is so much yet to do. It just takes time,” he said. “We make progress every day, but in spring, I think we will pick up the pace.”

Last modified Jan. 16, 2020

 

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