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75 dams in state make greatest risk list

| Friday, Sept. 12, 2008

Seventy-five Pennsylvania dams -- including a reservoir dam in Westmoreland County and one in Greene County -- pose the greatest risk of causing downstream problems in heavy rains, according to an updated state list.

The Department of Environmental Protection distributed its "dams of special concern" list to emergency planners last week in advance of Tropical Storm Hanna.

Most dams on the list have spillways that are considered inadequate to handle worst-case levels of rainfall, said DEP spokesman Tom Rathbun. The rest are listed for reasons such as ongoing construction or rehabilitation, seepage problems or doubts about stability.

One dam on the list, at Ryerson Station in Greene County, developed cracks and required the state to drain the popular 62-acre Duke Lake in July 2005.

More recently, the West Leechburg reservoir dam in Westmoreland County was identified as a potential killer, even though it has been drawn down. Local officials have sought state assistance to address the problem.

Several dams were added to the list -- and a few removed -- since early May, when the auditor general's office released a report critical of the state's system of dam inspection and safety enforcement.

Many people who live downstream from the dams are unaware of the heightened danger, although emergency plans are on file at municipal and county offices and should be available for public inspection.

Residents "should be aware," Rathbun said. "Your local emergency officials are responsible for knowing the details of the emergency action plans for these dams."

Most of Pennsylvania's 3,200 dams are privately owned. When heavy rains are forecast, owners must follow specific procedures, such as drawing down the dam, cleaning out "trash racks" that collect debris and clearing the downstream area of trees and other impediments.

Pennsylvania, with its mountains and miles of waterways, is among the most flood-prone states in the nation. In July, the Legislature approved directing $100 million for projects to decrease the danger from floods.

List of "dams of special concern"

The following is the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's list of "dams of special concern":

  • Beaver County: Lower Hereford Manor and Upper Hereford Manor, Franklin Township.
  • Berks County: Lake Antietam, Lower Alsace Township; Boyertown Reservoir and Trout Run, Earl Township; Furnace Creek, Heidelberg Township.
  • Blair County: Hollidaysburg Muleshoe Reservoir, Juniata Township.
  • Bradford County: Millers Pond, Ridgebury Township.
  • Butler County: Boydstown, Thorn Run and Lake Oneida, Oakland Township; Glade Run, Middlesex Township.
  • Cameron County: Salt Run Reservoir, Portage Township.
  • Centre County: Cold Stream, Rush Township; Poe, Penn Township; Colyer Lake, Potter Township.
  • Clearfield County: Anderson Creek, Union Township.
  • Clinton County: Warren H. Ohl, Greene Township.

  • Cumberland County: Opossum Lake.
  • Delaware County: Broomall Lake, Media.
  • Elk County: H.B. Norton, Ridgway Township; Storage (Whetstone No. 2), Horton Township; Laurel Run, City of St. Marys.
  • Fayette County: Colonial No. 1 and Virgin Run Lake, Franklin Township.
  • Franklin County: Gunter Valley, Lurgan Township.
  • Greene County: Wisecarver, Franklin Township; Ryerson Station, Richhill Township.
  • Indiana County: Barr Slope Reservoir, Green Township.
  • Jefferson County: Kyle, Washington Township.
  • Lackawanna County: Glenburn Pond, Glenburn Township; Rush Brook, Carbondale Township; Speedwell Forge, Elizabeth Township.
  • Lebanon County: Marquette Lake, East Hanover Township.
  • Lehigh County: Leaser Lake, Lynn Township.
  • Luzerne County: Meadow Run, Bear Creek Township; Shickshinny Lake, Union Township; Croops Dam, Hunlock Township.
  • McKean County: Bradford City No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5, all in Bradford Township.
  • Monroe County: Marshall Lake and Shawnee Lake, Smithfield Township; Skytop, Barrett Township; Hunter Lake, Jackson Township; East Stroudsburg, Middle Smithfield Township.
  • Montgomery County: Loch Alsh Reservoir, Upper Dublin Township.
  • Northampton County: Minsi Lake, Upper Mount Bethel Township.
  • Schuylkill County: Lower Owl Creek and Upper Owl Creek, Tamaqua; Ringtown No. 5, Union Township, Mount Laurel (Mud Run), Pine Run and Kauffman Reservoir, New Castle Township; Indian Run, Branch Township.
  • Somerset County: Lake Somerset, Somerset Township; Indian Lake, Indian Lake.
  • Sullivan County: Lake Mokoma, Laporte.
  • Susquehanna County: Big Elk Lake, Dimock Township; Lower Alford Lake, Harford Township.
  • Tioga County: Lake Nessmuk (PA-601), Delmar Township.
  • Warren County: Chapman, Pleasant Township.
  • Washington County: Washington No. 3, North Franklin Township; Claysville School Street No. 1, Claysville; Canonsburg, Peters Township; Dutch Fork, Donegal Township.
  • Wayne County: Cadjaw Pond Dam, Texas Township; Lower Woods Pond, Lebanon Township; Belmont Lake, Mount Pleasant Township.
  • Westmoreland County: Sugar Run, St. Clair Township; Whitney Ridge, Unity Township; Howell, Sewickley Township; West Leechburg Reservoir, West Leechburg; Donegal, Donegal Township.
  • Wyoming County: Stevens Lake, Lemon Township.
  • Source: Pa. Department of Environmental Protection

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