Aqueduct Stable, Crews To Continue To Monitor

Excess water from the Miami Erie Canal and Six-Mile Creek gush through the Six-Mile Creek Aqueduct on Friday. The aqueduct sustained structure damage because of the excessive rain that hit the area.
Staff Writer

Early Friday morning, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) staff observed damage to the historic canal structure above Six-Mile Creek during a routine inspection. To limit water running through the canal and to stabilize the situation ODNR installed two coffer dams and limited flow at other points along the canal north of Grand Lake St. Marys.

Crews from Auglaize County and ODNR were at Bloody Bridge throughout the day, roughly a quarter of a mile south of the aqueduct at Six-Mile Creek on state Route 66, laying down boulders and stone across the Miami-Erie Canal in an attempt to slow water flow down as it reached the aqueduct.

Crews created a spillway next to the canal to allow water from the canal to run out into a ditch to alleviate water from entering the aqueduct in an attempt to stabilize the historic 175-year-old landmark. 

“What we had to end up doing was creating a second spillway before the southernmost coffer and merge it with the first one we dug,” Auglaize County Emergency Management Agency Director Troy Anderson said. “After we created the dam, we were getting reports that the canal was backing up to the south, overflowing our coffer dam and starting to spill out of its banks. Creating a second spillway and having it flow into the same ditch as the first one helped level the two sides of the canal and keep it from flooding more.”

As of 10 p.m. Friday, the aqueduct remained in stable condition as water had stopped flowing from the western edge by 9:45 p.m. and as flow from the eastern edge was expected to stop about an hour after that.

Anderson — who was on the scene for more than 12 hours — stated that the immediate danger of failure for the aqueduct had passed but engineers from the ODNR would be on site to monitor the condition throughout the night. He added that law enforcement from the ODNR would also provide security overnight. Repair work on the aqueduct will begin as early as Saturday morning as ODNR crews will use gravel and stone to create an access road, allowing them to work on the damaged structure.

At 8:15 p.m., officials reopened state Route 66 between U.S. 33 and state Route 197 as crews finished work on the Miami Erie Canal.

“It was a very large scale event — even though it was only a single event — all of the agencies involved made it large scale,” Anderson said. “I think the overall response on the state and local levels was great. We had [Ohio] State Highway Patrol and sheriff’s deputies doing traffic control; my CERT (Citizen Emergency Response Team) units out doing traffic and bringing us refreshments; ODNR had their canal division, engineers and law enforcement; Ohio EMA had two units on the scene; public utilities; St. Marys’ engineer; county engineer and we had Doug Ayers there from St. Marys Fire in case we had an emergency, we had a means of getting fire/rescue there and he was keeping the city updated on what was happening. I think we had about 15 different agencies there, operating together at one time.

“Everyone did their job, they did it very well and I thank all of them for their help.”