Editorial Staff | Newark Advocate

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will begin dredging Buckeye Lake to the joy of many nearby residents. Buckeye Lake has long been in need of dredging, said ODNR spokesman Matt Eiselstein, but no part of the lake more than its east end.

The shallow water hinders boat traffic and other water activities. Moreover, the nutrition-rich sediments on the lake’s bed makes it a hot spot for algal blooms, which can be toxic to people or pets trying to enjoy the water.

For years, residents of Buckeye Lake have been calling for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to do something about this, but the department always faced one serious obstacle: where to store the sediment.

The ODNR is now in the processes of finally overcoming that obstacle.

Over the past month, the department struck a deal with the Catholic Diocese of Columbus to purchase a 68-acre plot of land in Thorn Township in Perry County. This property will be used as a long-term storage and disposal area for pumped dredge sediment.

“This is a huge step in making Buckeye Lake safer and more accessible to its residents,” Eiselstein said.

Dredging is the process by which sediment at the bottom of the lake — mud, algae, and other water plants — is pumped out. After it’s removed, the sediment will be transported to the new storage location, but it won’t go to waste. Once dried, it can be converted into fertile soil to be used by local farmers and other Buckeye Lake occupants.

The primary effect of removing this muck is to deepen the water, according to Eiselstein, which will make it easier for boats, jet skis, and other water vehicles to navigate the lake. It has the dual benefit of also making the water cleaner and safer.

These developments may have an effect on the local economy too.

“Tourism has been steadily rising in Buckeye Lake over the last few years,” said Eiselstein. Now that more of the lake is available for more activities, the number of visitors is only predicted to rise.

The land purchase is predicted to close by the end of this month. The dredging developments will follow shortly thereafter. These developments will not affect Buckeye Lake’s dam replacement efforts, which are scheduled to wrap up this year.