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SENECAVILLE — Visitors to Seneca Lake Park this year will enjoy an expanded beach and a new service building at Seneca Lake Marina as the popular tourist destination continues to grow to meet the demands of its patrons.
“The beach is a little bigger and we are adding more swim toys to that area,” said Seneca Park Manager Matt Steffen. “And, the marina is now operating from the new service building at that location.”
Steffen said he believes more improvements are on the way for 2015 but those have not been revealed yet by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District that oversees the park.
“There is no definite information yet on what work or projects will be completed this year,” he said. “We expect to receive that information in the new few weeks in early March. Camping season doesn’t begin until April 1, so we want to have the information to distribute to our campers but we just don’t have it yet.”
Originally known as Senecaville Lake, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District property known today as Seneca Lake Park is part of a system of 14 lakes and dams that control the flow of water into the Muskingum River.
Seneca Lake offers a full menu of boating, swimming, camping and picnicking for visitors to the region.
The MWCD operates Seneca Lake Marina and a public boat launch ramp is located off Route 574 with a 399 horsepower limit for boats on the lake.
Fishing opportunities are abundant at Seneca Lake with channel catfish, flathead catfish, bullheads, white bass, striped bass, largemouth bass, crappies, bluegill, yellow perch and walleye calling the lake home.
A swimming beach with concession stand is located inside the park that features 4,060 acres of land.
Seneca Lake Park and Campgrounds includes 513 campsites with Class A full hookups and Class A with electric at two locations.
Also available at the park are vacations cabins and camper cabins, picnic shelters, hiking trails, an amphitheater and a playground including basketball courts. Seneca Lake offers daily camping rates, as well as 30-day camping and seven month camping rates.
Fireworks and other activities are featured at the park throughout the summer months.
The system is the design of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District as part of a plan implemented to reduce flooding and provide water for public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed. The dam is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District was created on June 3, 1933.
The lakes impound water and work in tandem with the dams for storage of floodwaters and conservation of floodwaters for beneficial uses.
Each of the 14 MWCD lakes drain into the Muskingum River. Seneca Lake is the largest MWCD lake and the third largest inland lake in Ohio.
The nine permanent MWCD lakes in addition to Seneca Lake include Atwood, Beach City, Charles Mills, Clendening, Leesville, Piedmont, Pleasant Hill, Tappan and Wills Creek. Dry dams impounding water only in times of high water are Bolivar, Dover, Mohawk and Mohicanville.
Two additional dams and lakes -- Dillon in Muskingum County and North Branch Kokosing in Knox County -- were constructed after the original 14 as part of the flood-reduction system.
The Seneca Lake reservoir consists of 3,550 acres of water that presently forms a conservation pool for flood control, recreation, fish and wildlife.
Senecaville Dam was built in 1937 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to damn the Seneca Fork of Wills Creek to create the flood control and water conservation reservoir. The 2,350 foot long dam was modified in 1982.
Of earthen construction, the core of the 49 foot tall dam is homogeneous earth with a foundation of rock and soil.
The dam is separated into two embankment sections, North and South, by a rock knoll, through which the dam outlet works is located.
The maximum discharge for the dam is 11,400 cubic feet per second.
The system of dams and reservoirs was designed to be operated so that the reservoirs could be filled to the height of the spillways in the event of a storm with a total five-day rainfall 36 percent larger than the magnitude of the March 1913 storm, one of the worst floods or record and the catalyst for the creation of the MWCD.
With the passage of the Flood Control Act of 1939, the federal government confirmed its commitment to be primarily responsible for flood control operations in the district.
Since the construction of the system of reservoirs and dams, it is estimated more than $7 billion worth of potential damage from flooding has been saved in the Muskingum River Watershed.