NEORSD Dam Restoration Project Update

Shaker Lakes Lower Lake

Lower Lake in Shaker Heights. June 2019. Photo by Ashley Hall.

by Jeff Jowett, Watershed Team Leader, NE Ohio Regional Sewer District

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, through the Regional Stormwater Management Program, is working to improve the dams at Lower Shaker Lake, which are currently out of compliance with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

The project will help the cities of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights, the owners of the dam, address some of the deficiencies identified by ODNR. During the first phase, trees were removed from Lower Lake near Brook Road before April 1 to comply with the Federal Endangered Species Act that protects endangered bat habitat. After April 1, bats begin to roost in dead trees across northern Ohio. Per ODNR, “Trees and brush should not be permitted in embankment surfaces or in vegetated earth spillways. Extensive root systems can provide seepage paths for water. Trees that blow down or fall over can leave large holes in the embankment surface that will weaken the embankment.”

In June, the second part of the project will begin. To protect the dam face from erosion, large stones will be placed below the normal high-water mark with more aesthetically pleasing river stones placed above the normal high-water mark. The lake will be temporarily drained to allow for both this work and a thorough inspection of the dam spillway (the foot bridge that links both sides of Brook Road). The spillway not only allows Doan Brook to continue its flow to Lake Erie, but also allows for the lake to safely release water downstream during large storms. It is important to note that both Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights have installed snow fencing to keep people away from the exposed mud flats that will appear as the lake water lowers. These exposed mud flats can be dangerous as  people can get stuck in the mud requiring emergency services to perform rescues. Included in this project is the improvement of the Green Lake dam located in Shaker Heights off Lee Road and Parkland Drive. The dam on Green Lake is at the far western end of the lake and comprises Andover Road. Additional work will be conducted this summer on the Green Lake spillway to increase the spillway’s capacity during large storms without over-topping the dam. The lake will be temporarily drained during this work as well. Upon completion of the spillway modifications, Andover Road will be transformed into a pedestrian walkway with a foot bridge, similar to the foot bridge at Lower Shaker Lake.

Lower Shaker Lake, Green Lake, and Horseshoe Lake are all Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) regulated dams.

Lower Lake
-Work complete
-Removal of woody vegetation along the earthen dam (Brook Rd.).
-Installation of large stone bank protection installed.

Horseshoe Lake (AKA Upper Lake):
-Sink holes were discovered within the earthen dam along with cracks in the concrete spillway resulting in ODNR mandating the dam be completely drained.
-Horseshoe Lake dam is classified by ODNR as a Class 1 Dam. This is the highest dam classification; ODNR states a Class 1 Dam failure will likely result in loss of life downstream.
-NEORSD is currently designing the restoration of the dam to bring it back into ODNR compliance.
-Construction is anticipated to begin in summer of 2020 and last approximately a year.
-Upon competition of the dam restoration, the lake will be fully filled again with water.

Green Lake (AKA The Duck Pond):
-Lake is currently drained to allow for work on dam.
-New spillway is being excavated to allow for larger storm events to pass through the spillway and not over top the dam.
-New pedestrian bridge will be installed, and Andover Road will be closed permanently to all vehicle traffic.
-Project is set to be completed spring 2020.
-Upon competition of the dam restoration, the lake will be fully filled again with water.

Marshal Lake:
-NEORSD has no work planned.

All work is anticipated to be completed by winter 2019 with site restoration occurring in the spring of 2020. Similar deficiencies at Upper Shaker Lake (Horseshoe Lake) will be addressed by the Sewer District later this year. Any questions can be directed to Jeff Jowett, NEORSD Watershed Team Leader at