Central Ohio’s Rainfall Has Advantages, Too

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Rainy Skies Above Franklin County's Hoover Dam
Rainy Skies Above Franklin County's Hoover Dam

The record rainfall across central Ohio may have its downsides, but there are upsides, too. Three Columbus area reservoirs are at maximum capacity and whitewater boaters are looking forward to being out on the water.

Water is pouring across the top of the dam at Hoover Reservoir in northeast Franklin County. The dam holds back 21 billion gallons of water; it’s one of three reservoirs that supply Columbus and 20 suburbs. Because of recent heavy rainfall, all three reservoirs are at maximum capacity.

“I know everyone is tired of the rain but in terms of water supply it is a good thing. We are in good shape for the high demand summer season with our reservoirs being full – all three of them – Griggs, O’Shaughnessy and Hoover.” That’s Laura Young Mohr, spokeswoman for the Columbus Department of Public Utilities. How long the water lasts, Mohr says, depends upon future weather conditions.

“It depends upon the kind of weather we get for the rest of the year and it also depends upon the demand and how much and there’s a relationship between the two in terms of a long hot dry summer – which I’m sure sounds very good right now – that would cause more usage in terms of lawn watering. I would say that conservation is still important because things can change rather quickly, you know, over a period of months,” Mohr says.

Mohr says the city pumps 140 million gallons of water every day. That’s the amount needed to supply water to 1.1 million customers.

Meanwhile Ohio’s river levels are extremely high and the water is fast-moving. Along what’s known as the Kokosing River Water Trail in Knox County, the water is moving at a rate of 2,000 cubic feet per second. That’s much too fast for canoeing and kayaking says Kim Marshall of the Knox County Park District.

“River levels right now are quite high in fact we would advise folks not to get on the river at this time until water levels come down to about 300 cubic feet per second,” Marshall says.

That does not stop whitewater boaters from dreaming about wild rivers. Andy Graham is the owner of the Outdoor Source group of stores and is an avid kayaker. He says the rains are good for his sport.

“As a whitewater boater you pray for rain because that guarantees you more whitewater,” Graham says.

Q: Does it add some exhilaration to the sport?

“It can, depending on the river. Most of our rivers are pretty flat,” Graham says. “There are a few sections of rivers in our area that have some whitewater that when it comes up like this that you have the ability to paddle whitewater.”

That ability might be around for a few weeks longer. The National Weather Service says central Ohioans should expect above normal precipitation for the next 30 days.

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