BERLIN CENTER, Ohio (WKBN) – The Army Corps of Engineers held a public meeting Wednesday night at Western Reserve High School to outline its upcoming study on the Mahoning River Watershed.
All that people who showed up wanted to talk about was the water level of Berlin Lake, located 13 miles west of Canfield in west-central Mahoning County. Will the level continue to fluctuate, going up or down?
From the Route 224 causeway at Berlin Lake Wednesday evening, three sailboats could be seen in the distance, three people trolled the shoreline fishing and one person was water skiing.
The water level right now at Berlin is perfect.
“The quality just this year, one year out of the 22 years that I’ve lived there, it’s just unbelievable,” Craig Brown said.
At the same time, representatives with the Army Corp of Engineers explained to 50 people — most of whom own property at Berlin — what will be involved in their upcoming Mahoning River Basin Water Management study.
“The goal of the analysis is to reassess the watershed and our reservoirs, and ensure they’re adequately operated and designed for present and future needs,” Scott Swansinger said.
The people, however, wanted to talk about the water level at Berlin, specifically, if the Corps will continue in some years to lower the level to a point where it’s useless for recreation.
“This is dragging on a bit too long and there’s no relief in sight,” Marge Conner said.
“We can deal with high water. It’s the low water we can’t deal with out there,” said Leslie Steele, who owns the Berlin Lake marina. “We all want to know what to expect for the next three years.”
No one with the Corps could promise the lake level would stay high, only that they would listen.
“We’re going to get this thing done right,” said John Kelly, with the Army Corps of Engineers. “We care and we’re here for you. That’s why we’re doing these meetings.”
Army Corps Biologist Rose Reilly said one big thing coming from the study will be a model of the Mahoning Watershed, which will give them a scientific way to make the right decisions — but some were not impressed.
“To say you have to do this study is both confusing and, frankly, a little, it’s actually a little offensive because you should have enough information with regard to the lake level now,” Conner said.
This is the first study of the watershed since the federal government’s reservoir system was built in the 1940s.
Along with Berlin, Kirwan Reservoir and Mosquito Lake will also be examined. It should take about three years.
The Army Corps of Engineers hopes to have it in place by the 2022 recreation season.