Sand and Gravel Company May Expand Akron Water Source

June 23, 2004

Lake Rockwell, which supplies water to Akron, Ohio may grow in the next three years.

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic announced that a sand and gravel company has been allowed to dig four pits on the city-owned property north of the lake.

The lake has been slowly filling up with silt flowing into the lake from the Cuyahoga River and settling, thus eating away at valuable water-storage space. The project is the cheapest solution proposed so far to help add capacity to the lake as the basins would later be filled with water.

City officials have debated alternatives for more than 20 years. Including a plan to carve out another reservoir in Geauga County so that 600-plus-acre Lake Rockwell could be drained and dredged without hurting water quality. However, cost estimate topped $50 million.

``Instead of our having to pay to dredge, we'll actually be paid for the sand and gravel that is extracted,'' Plusquellic said. ``We will take this slowly and make absolutely certain that we protect the quality of our water. But, eventually we hope–based on this test–to bid out the dredging of much of the area around the lake and part of Lake Rockwell itself to add capacity and enhance the quality of our water.''

The three-year deal is to bring the city a minimum of $168,000 annually. That sum could increase depending on how much sand and gravel is pulled from the pits, the Beacon Journal reported.

City officials would monitor the work to determine whether the dredging stirs up the silt–a consequence they hope to avoid.

The idea was proposed by Roger Schuck, owner of Rockwell Sand and Gravel of Mantua.

Schuck, whose business was on a property in Streetsboro next to the lake for nearly 20 years, said geological tests turned up the vein of sand and gravel near the water supply. Still to be determined is whether the material will be worth anything–something that some more tests will conclude, he said.

A memorandum of understanding gives Rockwell Sand and Gravel the mineral rights to the land beneath the lake for three years. A formal contract is being drafted and will need the City Council's OK, according to the Beacon Journal.

Lake Rockwell, which can hold 2.3 billion gallons of water, is also the center of a legal battle that has cost millions of dollars in legal fees as Portage County, Kent, Cuyahoga Falls, Munroe Falls and Silver Lake tried to force Akron to step up the flow of water over the Lake Rockwell dam into the Cuyahoga River, and to open the lake for fishing and boating. An appellate court required Akron to increase the flow over the dam, but it supported the city's position that the lake shouldn't be open to the public.

Source: The Beacon Journal