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Wills Creek Dam

Huntington District
Published Jan. 10, 2024

Wills Creek Lake, was authorized for flood control and allied purposes by the official plan for the Muskingum reservoir system prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and approved on November 19, 1934 by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.   Construction on the Wills Creek Dam project began February 25, 1935 and closure of the dam was accomplished on June 14, 1936.  The project construction was completed October 13, 1937.

The Flood Control Act of 1939 contained a provision that the Muskingum River Basin dams and reservoirs, then owned by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, be included in the comprehensive flood control plan for the Ohio River Basin.  Since that date the operation and maintenance of Wills Creek Dam and the rest of the Muskingum reservoir system has been the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Wills Creek Dam is a flood reduction facility. It is operated as a "dry dam" which means it does not have a large lake behind it. The small lake is caused by a nine foot high concrete ogee control weir at the entrance to the intake structure which maintains an average lake level of 742.0 feet above sea level. Sea level is the average of all the seas in the world and is recognized as 0 feet elevation, that is how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers measures the levels of water under its control. Under normal operations Wills Creek Lake is contained within the banks of the original Wills Creek. However, Wills Creek Lake is a flood reduction facility and when it is functioning for flood reduction it can store a minimum of 196,000 acre feet of water within the 20,452 acre reservoir. Water is stored up to elevation 779.00 feet above sea level, the top edge of the Spillway is exactly 779.00 feet above sea level. If the flood water got above that elevation it would flow over the Spillway and would no longer be under control. The dam is 108 miles above the mouth of the Muskingum River at Marietta, Ohio, the dam site is one mile upstream of the town of Wills Creek, Ohio. The actual dam consists of the embankment, which is made of rolled earth fill with a central impervious core, it is 87 feet above the streambed, the top of it is at an elevation of 799.0 feet above sea level, the crest is 1950 feet long, with a top width of 30 feet. The outlet works, which is the place made to allow the water to go through the dam, is in the left abutment of the dam. It consists of an approach channel, the Intake Structure, twin arch tunnels through the dam, the stilling basin used to calm the water, and the outlet channel. The Intake Structure houses six 7 1/2 foot X 15 foot caterpillar-type gates and one service gate, all used for flood-reduction operations. By operating these gates the level of the water above and below the dam is controlled. There are no Public Restrooms available at Wills Creek Dam.

Historical Info
Wills Creek Lake, was authorized for flood control and allied purposes by the official plan for the Muskingum reservoir system prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and approved on November 19, 1934 by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.   Construction on the Wills Creek Dam project began February 25, 1935 and closure of the dam was accomplished on June 14, 1936.  The project construction was completed October 13, 1937.

The Flood Control Act of 1939 contained a provision that the Muskingum River Basin dams and reservoirs, then owned by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, be included in the comprehensive flood control plan for the Ohio River Basin.  Since that date the operation and maintenance of Wills Creek Dam and the rest of the Muskingum reservoir system has been the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


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