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CLARK, PA. Low water levels prompt precautions, warnings



Published: Sun, August 26, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's bad, but not as bad as the drought that hit the region a couple years ago, a corps spokesman said.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

CLARK, Pa. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has closed two boat ramps at Shenango River Lake and may soon close a third because of low water levels.

The lake is about 31/2 feet below the normal summer pool level, the corps said in a statement issued this week, warning boaters to be cautious.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has marked several hazards around the lake with buoys, and boaters should obey those warnings for their own safety, the statement said.

Spokesman Jeff Cornelius said the concrete boat launch ramps at Golden Run on the eastern end of the lake and Parker's Landing on the western end were closed Aug. 20.

The low water level could also result in the closing of the Hartford Road ramp within a few days, he said.

"We're lower than normal but not as bad as we were in the drought a couple of years ago," Cornelius said.

Other lakes: The situation is worse at the corps' Berlin Lake, which is in part of Mahoning, Stark and Portage counties, in Ohio, and Michael J. Kirwan Lake, which is in part of Portage and Trumbull counties.

"We're 81/2 feet below where we should be," said Dennis Hardinger, maintenance supervisor at Berlin. That's just about winter pool level, he said.

Signs have been erected warning boaters, but no launch ramps have been closed, he said.

Kirwan is already more than 1 foot below winter pool level, said Dave Moreno, maintenance foreman at that facility. Warning signs are up, but no ramps have been closed, he said.

All corps lakes are flood control lakes, and Shenango River Lake, built in the late 1960s, is a flood control lake designed to protect the communities of the Shenango Valley downstream, which used to have periodic street flooding when the river would rise during extremely wet weather.

None of the communities has had a flood since the Shenango dam was built.

The Shenango is also a source of water for industry as well as the general populace downstream and, although the lake level rises and falls with the wet weather, the corps can't hold water in the lake for recreational purposes during extended dry periods.

That's basically what has happened now. "We're lacking rainfall," Cornelius said.

Dangers: Low water levels mean boats are in danger of striking submerged tree stumps, sandbars and other hazards, he said, noting that park rangers have put up signs at launch ramps warning that boating is hazardous due to unusually low water.

He said no boater complaints have come into the corps office at Shenango, but a lot of regular users of the lake are aware of the problem and are exercising caution.

No problems caused by low water were reported at RC's Marina, the only marina on the lake.

gwin@vindy.com




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