I was able to get away last week for a week of rest and relaxation (field research?). On the flight back, I sat next to a nice dude who had recently finished building a house on family land on Buckeye Lake in Ohio. Needless to say, he had some strong opinions on the Army Corp of Engineers' report that the Buckeye Lake Dam is in imminent danger of collapse and the subsequent decisions to leave the lake at winter pool levels (unboatable) until a solution is found (likely 3-5 years) and the Governor's decision to commit the state to build a new dam. Unsurprisingly, the story is receiving a lot of local coverage:
The story is so compelling because we can all relate to what these folks are going through — on both sides.
From the lake side, it’s about the economy, property values and recreation.
If your livelihood were invested in a marina or restaurant on the lake, your world would be upside down with the prospect of the water being permanently drained. If you worked at one of the lake-dependent businesses, you’d be worried sick about your financial future.
If you had a home on the lake and had invested your life savings in the place, this news would have you pulling your hair out (unless you have a hairline like mine, and nature’s already done it for you).
From below the dam, it’s about public safety: protecting life and property.
If your home were in harm’s way should the dam fail, you really wouldn’t care about someone else’s home value or whether some people wouldn’t get to use their Jet Skis over the summer. You’d want to know that your family was safe, that you could sleep at night without worrying about the dam giving way.
And if you’re the government official responsible for the dam, your obligation is to protect life, period.