Lower Lake’s Restoration, Part 1

Learning of a Problem, April, 2012

When my neighbor picked me up from the Cleveland Hopkins Airport on April 17th, he mentioned that the lower lake had overflowed onto West River Road earlier in the Spring.  Puzzled, April 18th I contacted Mr. Dale Vassal, Liverpool Township Maintenance Supervisor whether the lake had overflowed onto West River Road.  I learned that yes, indeed the lake had overflowed causing a hazard for those driving on West River Road.  On April 18th I also contacted Mr. Jim Dieter, Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District Technician for advice on the best way to resolve this overflowing issue.  April 19th, Mr. Dieter came out for an on-site visit.  In a letter dated April 24th, he noted the following issues with the dam of the lake alongside West River Road, named the "lower lake" in this post.

  1. Some areas of the top of the dam are only 1 foot wide.  Pond standards recommend at least 10 feet.
  2. Several years ago a muskrat had burrowed into the south end of the dam.  Repairs were made and the muskrat had been removed.  However seepage is moving through the dam in the location of the muskrat damage.  This area must be removed and replaced with compacted clay.
  3. The riser pipe (vertical spillway pipe) has been extended over 10 inches, raising the waterline of the lake to within inches of the top of the dam.  This would increase erosion of the dam.
  4. The riser pipe should be updated.
  5. The distance between the water level and the top of the dam needs to be at least 1 foot, preferably 2 or more feet.
  6. All trees and shrubs should be removed from the top and slope of the dam.  Sudden uprooting of the trees by strong winds can cause the movement of portions of the dam causing voids in the dam leading to failure of the dam.  The trees should be cut down until the stumps can be removed during the dam restoration.
  7. The top of the dam should be reestablished, preferably by lowering the level of the lake, then removing the existing top soil and muck until dry clay is reached and bring in compacted clay to rebuild the dam.
  8. The edge of the dam facing the water should be lined with a filter fabric, then the fabric be covered with # 1 or # 2 limestone.
  9. The project should be done in consultation with the Medina County Engineers Office and would probably require a permit to do the work.  Necessary diagrams should be provided by an engineer in coordination with Liverpool Township due to the dam being in the West River Road right of way.  The work should be overseen by an engineer.

April 24th I also contacted my attorney, David Riehl regarding the issue, knowing that I had not only my obligation to restore the dam, a portion of which was owned by Lot 10, my lot, but also the lake including a portion of the dam was owned by Lot 9.  In addition, two other lots, owned by Popa Land Company, our family partnership also had land that bordered on the water in the lake.  I could speak for those two lots, as I was the General Partner for Popa Land Company, following the deaths of my parents, Joseph and Evelyn Popa who owned the farm that they later developed into Lakeview Rural Reservation.  I sought the advice of my attorney so I could obtain a positive resolution to the issue of the lake becoming a source of hazard for those driving on West River Road.

Gathering Information, May, 2012

May 8th I met with my attorney, David Riehl, giving him a copy of the letter from Mr. Dieter as well as a copy of the Lakeview Rural Reservation Plat and an aerial photograph of the dam in question.  We agreed to an on-site meeting for May 22nd so Mr. Riehl could better visualize the project.   I knew that the wisdom that Mr. Dieter provided was good guidance for a successful outcome as my dad, Joe Popa and I had worked with Mr. Dieter and Medina County Engineers in the past when constructing 7 of the other 8 lakes in Lakeview.  Mr. Dieter was an integral part of the process of approval for obtaining a lake permit.

On May 9th I also contacted Tom Hricovec of Kodiak because I had respect for his knowledge and work ethic and he would be able to give me wisdom on whether or not Kodiak would be able to do the dam restoration, but also to perhaps give a reference for an engineer to do the design of the dam necessary to meet Medina County and Liverpool Township approval for the restoration.  Tom came out on May 13th for an on-site visit to the dam.  He also gave me a referral for an engineering firm, Bramhall Engineering and Surveying, that provided plans for dam construction. 

May 22nd I took pictures of the dam, especially the level of the water relative to the top of the dam and the tree trunks as well as the area of seepage.  Below is a view of the dam taken from the West River Road hill.  The utility pole in the distance is the approximate location of the Lot 9/Lot 10 property line.



This is one of the several pine trees clinging to the bank which has already eroded to the point that the trunk is in the water.


These two volunteer black locust trees are near the area of seepage.  Note the third tree already dead in the water.


This is a small maple volunteer next to a volunteer tulip tree that is over 50 foot tall.


This area is of two pines that had been cut down by my husband and I several years ago.  Their roots have rotted and water is starting to ooze into the road side of the dam.


This is the area of seepage referenced by Mr. Dieter.  The water is just a few inches from the top of the dam and travels through the myriad of tunnels caused by the muskrat.


Meetings, May, 2012

The owners of Lot 9 had been on vacation and returned around May 20th.  I contacted one of them relative to the issue of water overflowing from the dam onto the road in the Spring.  I then gave him the letter from Mr. Dieter regarding his assessment of the health of the dam and the remedies.  On May 22nd I met with one of the owners to discuss the condition of the dam.  He first denied that any water had overflowed onto West River Road, then blamed the people living across the road for their culvert dumping water into the catch basin on our side of the road.  Later I learned from Liverpool Township that not only was the culvert mentioned the very one that connected to the vertical spillway for our lake, thus the water observed by the owner of Lot 9 was our water.  I later learned that the owner of Lot 9 had asked Liverpool Township to install this very culvert and catch basin to connect them to the spillway pipe and continue the culvert alongside West River Road to the ditch on Grafton Road that feeds into Rocky River.

I also learned later that earlier in the Spring, when the water was running onto West River Road,  the Liverpool Township maintenance workers had gone to the spillway and found it completely obstructed by logs and limbs.  The maintenance of the spillway was the responsibility of Lot 9 as the spillway was on their property and they rode by it daily to get their mail so it wasn't an imposition for them to glance at the spillway as they passed to see if it were clear.  In fact, the Liverpool Township maintenance workers described the water shooting up at least three feet into the air from the grate in the catch basin when the spillway was cleared of the debris and the water gushed down it to the catch basin.  This spillway is about 2 foot from the dam and could easily be reached by an adult with a rake to pull the debris away and keep it cleared.

When I mentioned the problems that the extension on the top of the spillway pipe caused in that it raised the water level too high relative to the dam, the owner of Lot 9 stated that Mr. Popa put the extension onto that spillway pipe.  This was an illogical statement to me, having worked with my dad, Mr. Popa on the surveying and planning of several of the lakes constructed in Lakeview and I knew that we were both aware of the 2-foot requirement for the height of the water level relative to the height of the dam.  I also knew that from 1960 when the dam was built until 1998 when the owners of Lot 9 were building their home that the level of the lake had remained the same level and also had not overflowed its dam.  Thinking of a conversation that I had had with my dad sometime after the owners of Lot 9 moved into their new home, where he recounted a complaint they made to him.  The complaint was that when they looked at the lake they saw mud at the end of it and they wanted to see water there.  My dad commented to me that he told them if they want more water in that area, since it was on their property that they hire a backhoe operator to dig out the delta area where a spring-fed creek deposited its water and silt into the lake allowing the mud to build in that area.

The owner was adamant that the trees on their portion of the dam remain.  I told him that was not a possibility, in that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources demanded that dams be kept clear of all trees and shrubs.

In all, the meeting with the owner of Lot 9 went as I suspected it would which was my reason for contacting my attorney regarding the matter.  On May 23rd, Mr. Riehl came out for an on-site visit.  He recommended that I have the owner of Lot 9 meet with the Liverpool Township Maintenance Department and with Bramhall Engineering.  I contacted Bramhall on May 29th to set up the on-site meeting.

I contacted Liverpool Township Maintenance Supervisor, Dale Vassal and arranged a meeting with him, an owner of Lot 9 and myself in the afternoon of May 30th.  Part of the topic of this meeting was moving the spillway from its current location on the Lot 9 property to a location closer to the West River Road hill on the Lot 10.  Mr. Vassal agreed to contact the Liverpool Township Trustees to see if they would approve the relocation of the spillway and the installation of another catch basin and culvert to tie into the existing catch basin and culvert.  Mr. Vassal also agreed to see if the Township Trustees would approve the Liverpool Township Maintenance department installing the catch basin and culvert in the West River Road right of way, given that we would purchase the culvert and catch basin.

The evening of May 30th I had a meeting with an owner of Lot 9, Clarence Watkins of Bramhall Engineering.  Mr. Watkins concurred with Mr. Dieter's recommendations and told the owner of Lot 9 that everything recommended was standard for dam construction in Ohio.  He further said that one piece of information was the depth of the lake which would be critical to the design of the dam and also the State of Ohio requirements for annual inspections of dams holding back water over ten feet deep.  To that end, he recommended bringing in an engineer to measure and map the depth of the lake since the documents for the lake construction couldn't be located.  The firm he recommended was Matrix Engineering, engineer John Matricardi  to map out the depth of the lake.


June, 2012 Updates

June 1st Dale Vassal gave me the news that the Liverpool Township Trustees approved the relocation of the spillway and also the installation by the Liverpool Township maintenance personnel.  I called Clarence Watkins to include this information that the spillway would be relocated and that the Township would be responsible for installing the catch basin and culvert for this spillway, so it wouldn't need to be called out in detail in the Bramhall/Matrix design.

I emailed Kodiak with updates on the meetings.  I also updated Riehl via email.

I called Matrix Engineering to make the initial contact relative to their mapping of the lake depth and the coordination with Bramhall Engineering for the dam restoration design plans.

An owner of Lot 9 requested a meeting with Kodiak to "get an idea" of the approximate cost of construction and what would be done during construction.  Without the engineered plans, a cost estimate would be impossible.  I arranged a meeting for June 11th with the owner of Lot 9, myself and Tom Hricovec of Kodiak.  Tom learned of the Lot 9 owner's concerns regarding certain aspects of his portion of the dam and placement of excavated muck, tree debris, equipment parked on-site, etc.

June 9th Matrix Engineering emailed a proposal to the owners of Lots 9 and 10 regarding their fees, Bramhall's fees and scope of work.  When I forwarded a copy of this to my attorney, he suggested that he prepare a "Letter of Intent" to present to the owners of Lot 9 to obtain their written obligation to pay their one fourth of the cost of the restoration as they had agreed to do by the terms of the Deed Restrictions they accepted when they purchased Lot 9.

June 11th I had a meeting with Ron Spanos of Medina County Engineers.  He is one of the County engineers who will approve the plans drawn by Bramhall & Matrix.   He strongly encouraged me to not permit the water to flow onto West River Road and to move quickly to restore the dam.

On June 12th, I met with Dale Vassal of Liverpool and learned that the Township had installed a French drain below the seepage near the guardrail to catch the seepage.  This French drain also connects to the catch basin for the spillway.  With the reluctance of the owner of Lot 9 to permit the extension on the spillway to be removed and with the need to begin lowering the lake level Mr. Vassal encouraged me to install a 6-inch drainage culvert to the end of the French drain, angled toward the seepage area so that a siphon could be installed to lower the level of the lake.  I agreed to dig down to that drain and install the temporary culvert to accept the siphon.  Below are some pictures of the installation.

This picture is of the trench dug to the French drain with the 6-inch white PVC attached.


The temporary culvert is completed.  Liverpool Township had loaned the hazard cone to warn drivers of the hole at the side of the road.


Letter of Intent, June 13, 2012

I met with an owner of Lot 9 and gave them the Letter of Intent that Mr. Riehl had drafted.  The owner expressed surprise that I would not proceed with the project on just a verbal agreement.  I also gave him the Matrix/Bramhall engineering proposal.  Before any engineering work would be done we were to pay 1/2 of the proposal to engage them.  The owner of Lot 9 stated that he would have to check with his attorney regarding the Letter of Intent which addressed not only the engineering but also the work to be done by Kodiak in the actual construction of the dam and also the culvert and catch basin costs for the work that would be done by Liverpool Township maintenance personnel.

I apprised the owner of Lot 9 that I would be leaving on June 19th for California and returning on July 9th to Valley City.  Since he had my email, we would have no problem with communication.  I signed two copies of the Letter of Intent and left them at my attorney's office so they would be in place should the owners of Lot 9 be instructed by their attorney to sign them.  Since the weather was still dry, I didn't want to be the cause of any holdup in the project.


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