1913 Dayton’s solution: 100 years later, dams back at work this week

All that water has to go somewhere.

Significant snowmelt and up to three-quarters of an inch of rain have pushed the Great Miami River in Dayton and Hamilton about 6 feet higher than normal for this time of year, according to the Miami Conservancy District.

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The MCD’s five dams — Germantown, Englewood, Lockington, Taylorsville and Huffman — were built between 1918 and 1922, to protect the Great Miami River valley in the wake of the catastrophic 1913 flood, which killed more than 300 people.

MCD spokeswoman Brenda Gibson said all five dams are temporarily storing floodwaters this week — a process that begins when the water levels rise to the top of the concrete openings at the dams.

The openings, or conduits, won’t allow more water downstream than the river channel can handle, according to Gibson. The remaining floodwaters are held in basins behind the dams and will drain out over the next several days.

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MCD officials said water storage is expected to crest at four dams today, and at the Englewood dam on Friday night or Saturday morning. MCD officials closed storm sewer floodgates in Troy, Middletown and Hamilton on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, to prevent rising rivers from backing up into storm sewers and city streets.

The five dams have stored floodwaters more than 1,950 times in the past 100 years, according to MCD. That allows levees to keep floodwaters within the river channel through Piqua, Troy, Tipp City, Huber Heights, Dayton, Moraine, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Franklin, Middletown and Hamilton.

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