SMITHFIELD - Cattails growing and a wet area usually aren't a good sign on the face of a dam.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has noted the area for years during inspections of the dam at the lake at Friendship Park.
Then the County Risk Sharing Authority, the statewide consortium which provides property and liability insurance to Jefferson County, threatened to pull the insurance coverage on the dam.
WET SPOT — The dam at the lake at Friendship Park is dry for the first time since it was built in 1972. Officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have noted for years during inspections a wet spot on the face of the dam. It turned out to be a natural spring and not the dam leaking. The park board hired a contractor to divert water from the spring away from the face of the dam.
James Branagan of the Friendship Park Board said the park board hired an engineering firm to determine what was causing the wet spot on the face of the dam. The study found the wet area was caused by a natural spring located on the edge of the dam face, he said. The water was tested and it was determined not to be coming from the 85-acre lake.
Branagan noted the area is full of springs.
The park board bid the project, and Utility Contracting of Youngstown was awarded the contract in the amount of $130,000, Branagan said.
Branagan said a filter bed, made from sand and gravel, was installed to collect water from the spring. A French drain was installed at the edge of the filter bed to take the water down the face of the dam to where the spillway pipe from the lake discharges into a creek.
Andy Bryan, park board president, said the contractor discovered during construction that the size of the filter bed could be reduced, lowering the contract amount to about $100,000.
Branagan said riprap was placed along the shore of the lake at the dam, and he said the rocks will help protect the dam from waves.
The next step of the project is to run a camera up the spillway pipe to determine if there are any obstructions in the pipe, Branagan said. Steubenville is lending the park board the camera.
He added the wet spot on the face of the dam was noticed soon after the dam was built.
"Its a 40-year-old problem. Hopefully, after 40 years, we got it solved," he said.