Midwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America

Ballville Dam Project

Project Summary

The Ballville Dam Project was selected for funding through the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds. The preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding the disposition of Ballville Dam in Sandusky County, Ohio, is meant to analyze alternatives focused on meeting the purpose and need of the project. These are: 1) to restore and expand upon self-sustaining fishery resources within the lower Sandusky River by providing fish passage at the Ballville Dam impoundment site in both upstream and downstream directions; and 2) to restore system connectivity and natural hydrologic processes between the impounded area upstream of Ballville Dam and the lower Sandusky River, resulting in a net gain in the amount of free-flowing riverine habitat for fish and wildlife.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is available for public review and comment through March 26, 2014.

History

Ballville Dam was built on the Sandusky River in 1913 for hydroelectric power generation and is approximately 407 feet long and 34.4 feet high. The impounded section of the Sandusky River extends upstream from the dam approximately 2.1 miles (3.4 km), and the surface area is approximately 89.3 acres. The dam was originally built as a run-of-the-river hydroelectric generation facility by the Fremont Power and Light Company, which later became the Ohio Power Company. The City bought the land and facilities in 1959 and re-purposed the dam to provide the City’s water supply. Since the purchase of Ballville Dam by the City in 1959, the impounded area has been used as a source of public water. Progressive deterioration of the dam and associated sea wall has been noted in successive inspections beginning in 1980; however, the last known maintenance performed on the structure occurred in 1969. In February 2008, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a Findings and Orders notification to the City citing numerous Ohio Administrative Code Rule violations related to the operation of the Public Water System. To address this, an off channel reservoir was constructed and became operational in February 2013 and is currently the primary source of water for the City of Fremont.

Ballville Dam 2011. Credit: USFWS