Residents near High Point Lake no longer on high alert

September 25, 2018

Administrators with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission announced that they have deactivated the emergency action plan that had been in place for residents living downstream from the High Point Lake Dam.

“We never took the situation lightly. We worked with the emergency management officials to make sure residents downstream were in constant communication,” Mike Parker, commission spokesman, said Monday. “Once we determined that the excess discharge was not at a level that was unmanageable, we knew there was not imminent danger to them or to the structural integrity of the dam even though there was more water coming through.”

After investigating the matter, a diver learned that the wooden stop logs needed to be replaced in the dam. The logs, each a piece of cut timber that is 4 inches by 6 inches by 5 feet, rest on top of each other and control the flow of water downstream. The logs also determine the depth of the lake, according to Parker.

The dam is a 45-foot high structure that was constructed in 1965. The dam channeled the waters of Glade Run to create a 338-acre, 37-foot deep lake. It is located near Mount Davis in Addison Township.

The dam had experienced partial failure earlier this month. On Sept. 1, a resident near the dam reported to the Somerset County Emergency Management Agency that they heard a loud crash from within the dam. A short time later, heavy flows were seen discharging from the dam’s main spillway outlet pipe.

Workers with the agency alerted the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. The commission dispatched local law enforcement, maintenance and engineering staff to the dam for evaluation and determined that a part of the dam’s principal spillway intake structure had failed.

So that repairs can be made, a steel bulkhead was placed over the principal spillway intake pipe to prevent water from entering the control tower. A full repair, including the installation of new stop logs, is expected to take several more weeks, according to a news release from the commission. Until then, water will exit the dam exclusively through the reinforced concrete auxiliary spillway.

Parker couldn’t give an estimate on the cost. But Paul Urbanik, acting director of engineering for the Fish & Boat Commission, told the Daily American earlier this month that such a repair would cost a few thousand dollars.

A drawdown of the lake has ceased, as engineers have determined that repairs to the dam can be completed while water levels remain at normal pool. While the removal of siphons and pumps utilized during the drawdown has already begun, the public is asked to remain at least 200 feet away from any remaining equipment. No other restrictions are currently in place for fishing and boating on High Point Lake.

The decision to repair the tower in-house or via contractor has yet to be made, according to Parker. If the department opts to use a contractor to complete the repairs, it is obligated to use a Department of General Services job ordered contractor. The selected general contractor for job ordered contracts in the southwest region is K.J. Johnston Ltd, based out of Pittsburgh.

The public was never at risk during the ordeal, Parker said.

“It was never at levels which caused it to exit the dam in the way that wasn’t designed,” Parker said. “There was more water coming out, but it was coming out the right place.”

Update hourly