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The History of Hoover Reservoir

The following history is an extract from a report by Columbus done to create the "Hoover Management Plan" in 1990.
*Note that some items are no longer accurate (an example is that the current horsepower limit as of 2020 is 10 mph).

Hoover Reservoir, located north of State Route 161 and east of Sunbury Road, is part of the Big Walnut Watershed which in turn is part of the Scioto River Watershed Basin. Hoover is the City of Columbus' largest water storage pool. This reservoir was named after Charles Hoover, one of the first superintendents of the Columbus Water Division. A dedication plaque is located at the west end of the dam. Built between 1952 and 1955, Hoover is an earth-filled dam with an ogee* concrete spill way. Al though the dam is not hydro-electric, provisions have been built into its structure (also in Griggs and O'Shaughnessy Dams) to allow it to be converted to produce hydro-electric power at some future time.  O'Shaughnessy has been converted and is producing power. Griggs also has the potential to produce electrical power. 


The dam structure of Hoover is 2,583 feet long, 680 feet of which is the spillway. It took 180,000 cubic yards of concrete and 591,500 cubic yards of earth to construct the dam structure. Contracted by Burgess and Niple Company, this project cost $7.3 million at the time of construction. The dam structure is 90 feet high, 83 feet wide at the base and the reservoir took 5 months to fill with water. 


The reservoir is 8.75 miles long and 1.5 miles wide at the widest point. By 1954, the City had acquired 4,600 acres of land for the project. Today the City land around the reservoir totals 1,780 acres. The maximum elevation of the water level (holding capacity) of the reservoir was 890 feet above sea level. With the addition of crest-gates in 1969, the water level capacity could potentially rise to 898 feet above sea level. The volume of water contained at the 890 level is 19.7 billion gallons; also measured as 60,000 acre feet with 2,825 surface water acres. At 898 elevation, holding capacity is 27.8 billion gallons of water or 86,000 acre feet with 3,570 surface water acres. The average water capacity is held at 893 feet of elevation holding 22.4 billion gallons with 3,073 surface water acres. The lowest recorded water level was 868 feet in 1965 or 22 feet below the spillway.

Hoover Reservoir releases 120 million gallons of water per day into Big Walnut Creek of which only 110 million gallons is treated for consumption leaving 10 million gallons per day for Big Walnut Creek. The water is treated from Hoover at the Morse Road Water Treatment Pl ant some 3 1/2 miles downstream. The water velocity released from the dam ranges from 9 to 16 cubic feet of water per second. Hoover Reservoir contains 60% of all the water used by Columbus. Of all the water treatment facilities in Columbus, the water flow from Hoover is the least expensive to treat. Presently, a proposal exists to build a 54 inch pipe from the dam to the Morse Road Treatment Plant to feed water directly to the plant without expensive electric pumping from the creek
as is now done. 


This would also reduce mud, silt and nitrates (turbidity) in the creek water. A pipe to carry water from Alum Creek State Reservoir some 6 mil es northwest of Hoover Dam was built in the late 1960's to be used as a supplemental supply of water in case of a water shortage emergency. Alum Creek State Reservoir was constructed primarily for flood control and not as a water storage pool.
Erosion of shoreline is a significant problem at Hoover Reservoir and to help control the erosion, the Water Division uses large rocks (rip-rap) placed on the steep banks (mostly the east side).

As a recreational and boating facility, Hoover provides opportunities for boating, sailing, sailboarding, and fishing. Boats are restricted to no more than a six (now 10) horsepower motor and no swimming is permitted. Park facilities at Hoover include a campground, boat docks, staking areas, launch ramps and a wide variety of day-use facilities. Many species of fish and wildlife thrive in and along the reservoir. Fishermen may find many species of game fish including bass, catfish, perch, saugeye and occasionally Muskie. A Nature Preserve has been established since 1988 to protect sensitive areas where rare birds and plants have been identified.

The water and affiliated -responsibilities regarding water consumption and quality are under the jurisdiction of the Columbus Water Division. The parkland surrounding the reservoir is managed by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.

Hoover Reservoir represents 40.4% of all parkland within the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.


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