Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The US Army Corps of Engineers says it has lowered the levels of all 16 of its reservoirs that feed into the upper Ohio River Basin, as it gets ready for the potential of heavy runoff in the coming days. The corps says it has an “abundant amount of space” to store water. It has been estimated that the reservoirs, spread over 5 states, can capture about a third of the snowmelt and storm water runoff in the basin. US Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh spokesperson Jeff Hawk says in 1996, the corps was able to keep the floodwaters 10 feet lower than they would have been if there were no reservoirs. Hawk says, "We can reduce the risk of flooding but we can't eliminate it.” In fact, there are two major tributaries that feed into the Pittsburgh basin that do not have flood control measures installed – the Casselman and the Cheat. The water collected in the reservoirs is released in the dry summer months to maintain a navigable flow on the region’s rivers. The reservoirs were created as part of the Flood Control Act of 1936 which came on the heals of the devastating 1936 St. Patrick's Day Flood. Hawk says since then the corps estimates the reservoirs have prevented more than $10.2 billion of damages.