KINSMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Many questions are still left unanswered as to what caused Kinsman Lake to overflow, washing away a roadway.
On July 20, heavy rains led to the only road leading to more than 20 homes on Lakeview Drive to be washed away. Now, many families are displaced until the road can be repaired.
The question, however, is whether a dam owned by the Kinsman Lakelands Association played any part in the lake overflowing.
In June of 2016, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources conducted an inspection of the dam. It was found that several repairs were needed, and the “Kinsman Lake Dam does not appear to be able to safely pass the design flood.”
Once the inspection was done, the results were sent to the Lakelands Association, as well as its president. ODNR says those results were also copied to Trumbull County’s engineer and Kinsman Township because a township road runs over it.
In a letter sent to the Kinsman Lakeland Association and Janet LaPlante in November 2016, ODNR details how to begin repairing the dam.
The letter states,
“Listed in the report are several repair, maintenance, and monitoring items that as a dam owner you are required by law to perform. Completion of these required items will improve the safety and overall condition of the dam. The Chief must approve any plans for modifications or repairs to the dam… Following approval of the engineered plans, all necessary repairs must be implemented by the owner under the supervision of a registered professional engineer.”
George LaPlante is now the president of the association. He denies that the dam had anything to do with the road being washed away.
He said the dam did not give out and the amount of water that built up during Saturday’s storm was simply too much for the lake to hold.
LaPlante says several of the issues reported in ODNR’s 2016 inspection were fixed, but those involving the hydraulics system were not fixed due to funding. He said he and other association members were under the impression that it wasn’t urgent and were told the dam was still functional.
He said since the results of the 2016 inspection report, he hasn’t heard from or spoken with anyone from ODNR.
An ODNR spokesman said they have no documentation to indicate that the owner took any steps to correct the deficiencies listed in the report. The owner of the dam was required to follow up with ODNR within the timelines specified in the report, according to ODNR.
ODNR added that it’s difficult to determine whether the issues noted in the inspection report led to the flooding.
“This rain event was significant and caused a great deal of flooding, both upstream and downstream of this dam and in other areas. The extent to which this dam’s failure contributed to any particular flooding would be difficult to determine,” read the statement from ODNR.
In the meantime, officials say it could take 30 to 60 days before the families can return to their homes for good.
Currently, the lake is fully drained.
The Trumbull County Engineer’s office is working with Kinsman Township to help repair the road, if funding is available. Their plan as of now is to build a temporary road, then de-water the breach area and rebuild the embankment.